Thursday, 18 January 2018

Manchester Mears Group Strike explained

NV Editorial comment on Mears dispute:  Dave Smith, joint secretary of the Blacklist Support Group, wrote to a shop steward involved in the strike at Mears Group plc [see e-mail below].  Mears is a housing repair and maintenance body.  The Mears workers walked out in a strike over pay and conditions, begining with a 48-hour stoppage on the 16th, November 2017.  Some  180 Unite members who work at Mears in Manchester and at 'Manchester Working', a joint venture organisation operated by Mears, voted in favour of industrial action in a ballot last in October 2017.  The affected employees undertake housing maintenance work across 12,000 properties managed by the housing association Northwards, via a contract tendered by Manchester council.
The dispute seems to be complicated by the fact that  Manchester City Council was in the process of breaking up the joint venture company and much of the workforce has been TUPE – [Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations] transferred to Mears.In the run-up to the TUPE transfer in January 2017, Mears reneged on a previous commitment to tackle pay differentials.  In the run-up to the TUPE transfer in January 2017, Mears reneged on a previous commitment to tackle pay differentials.  
The new contract the Mears workforce are expected to follow demands a more flexible approach to shift working, additional working hours and days as well as greater use of technology, without any real increase in pay.  Mears is also seeking to introduce a ‘productivity procedure’ which is effectively a ‘sackers charter’ and has been pressurising the workforce into accepting poorer conditions regarding sick pay and vehicle policies.
 Even before the collapse of Carillion, the workforce was disappointed with the attitude of Manchester City Council, which was aware of the ongoing problems at Manchester Working but went ahead with the TUPE process regardless.

Hi people,

SEE below email from the steward at Mears who are building workers in Manchester who have been on strike for the past 8 weeks now.   I've only just really heard about the dispute, so forgive me if its a really big deal up in the North West..  Any chance some of you guys contacting him and hopefully organizing some solidarity?

Hi Dave,

Unfortunately, Brother we are still very much out.

We are in our 7th week of a 12 week Strike Action with work only being undertaken on a Wednesday. This is our second wave of action in the same dispute.  Back in May 2017 we had our first 12 week strike that ended in 24/7 action against the companies MWL (a JVC) and Mears.

Any show of Solidarity is food for our members here in Manchester, be it a financial donation or just a message of support to remind us we are not alone.  This has been a difficult Winter for all involved in the action with Christmas falling within the period of action.  Truly a testing time for our members, there spouses and dependants.

Our Fighting Fund has helped releave the pressure on many of our younger members who are sole income householders woth young families and large mortgages.

One of my fellow Workplace Reps William Sinclair became a victim of Blacklisting here in Manchester back in the day.  He tells me how he had to find alternative employment away from the Building Trade at that time. Appalling.

Your Solidarity is greatly appreciated Dave and any monies raised will continue to go to those members in need to help bolster our resolve and prevent any considerations of a return to work through hardship. Our fund details are....

UCATT UD.393 Manchester 1st Branch
Sort Code  60-83-01
Account no.  46034412

Col Pitt

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