GMB members working for Sita in Kensington and Chelsea to vote after negotiations break down

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Street cleaners in Kensington and Chelsea are to ballot for strike action over pay.

The GMB members, who work for the local council, are employed by contractor Sita, are angry at having only received 5p an hour increase over the last two years, with no pay offer at all this year.

After failed negotiations with Sita, the union has decided to issue ballot papers next week.

GMB organiser Gary Carter said: “I expect these workers to vote for strike action and we will meet after the ballot closes to fix dates for action unless Sita puts an offer on the table.

“GMB members who clean the streets of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea have won it the accolade of the cleanest in London in 2012. And although they work hard and are well respected by the residents and visitors to the borough, this is not reflected in their pay, which is the lowest for street cleansing staff across the capital.

“Other wage rates on the Kensington & Chelsea contract, the most affluent borough in London, have not even kept pace with inflation, or with pay rates on other contracts, which have increased on average by 2% to 3% each year, unlike RBKC, where staff have received less than 1% in the last three years.

“Where once RBKC rates set the standard and attracted staff, Sita is now finding it hard to recruit and retain quality staff because pay has stagnated and fallen significantly behind comparable wage rates.

“Workers look at other employers. For example an NSL parking employee earns £8.34 per hour while a City of London sweeper earns £8.30 per hour, with a pay award pending. Very few workers can afford to live locally, so the pay rate and travel is always a consideration for people who pass other workplaces on their way to work.

“Workers are no longer willing to put up with low pay. What you now have is an ethnically diverse workforce, who want to be treated fairly and wants to earn a reasonable weeks pay. Considering that the average weekly wage in the borough is reported to be £1,305.00, the London Living Wage, of £332.00 per week is surely not too much to ask.

“If this situation is not addressed by the Council and Sita then the pay gap will get wider and become harder to breach. This will cause greater inequality, unfairness and the effect will be a deteriorating service to residents and soured employment relations.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson supports the London Living Wage, but flagship conservative and most affluent London borough has rejected paying street cleaners the London Living Wage.”


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