Up to 100 Unite members working on maintaining the M25 motorway have voted to strike by a majority of 97% in a dispute over two-tier contracts and union recognition.
The maintenance contract is with a consortium Connect Plus Services (CPS) that is headed by Balfour Beatty. Balfours are up to their normal cost cutting measures against workers, this time on the M25. With 25 years left to run on the contract, CPS wants workers, who are currently on two-tier contracts with some TUPE’d from local authority or Carillion contracts equalised down via taking away the TUPE agreement to the inferior Balfour terms by removing holiday pay and entitlement. Despite the supposed need for cost-cutting, Balfours have awarded their CEO Leo Quinn an incredible £800,000 salary!
They also wanted an inferior sick pay scheme but workers were successful in ensuring that they got paid from the first day of sickness. NSSN supporters took part in a Unite protest outside Balfour Beatty’s London HQ last October, which helped to win this concession. But Unite and their members are determined to also win their other demands which can open the door to all workers getting the one rate of £30,000 p.a.
CPS are refusing to discuss with Unite and the other unions about a recognition agreement because they don’t want to enter into collective bargaining. But workers have shown their determination to fight for their rights. As Unite officer Malcolm Bonnett says, “These operatives risk their lives day and night working on the lane closures making repairs and clearing accidents up for a shocking wage. They are the M25 contract and should have pay that reflects their effort and loyalty given the likes of the CEO a lifestyle beyond my members comprehension.”
The NSSN gives full support to Unite and their members in any action that they take. What should give these workers confidence is that Balfours were defeated when they led the attempt to impose the BESNA contract on construction electricians in 2011 which would have cut wages by 35%.