Corby agency workers blacklisted, claims union

Kier carries out waste collections for Corby Council
Kier carries out waste collections for Corby Council

A firm has been accused by a trade union of ‘blacklisting’ agency workers in Corby because of a dispute over equal pay.

The GMB has accused Kier of blacklisting Street Scene Services agency workers in Corby because they raised grievances over alleged unlawful deductions of wages and claims of unequal pay.

Kier Street Scene Services, which has called the claims fictitious, carries out waste collection and street cleaning duties on behalf of Corby Council.

GMB regional officer Rachelle Wilkins said: “These GMB members very rightly raised a grievance with Kier director Andy Smith over not receiving parity pay with permanent employed employees.

“The three agency workers have been paid £7 per hour while their Kier work colleagues, whom they worked side by side with, have been paid £8.72 per hour.

“They were advised through their agency after informal local discussions with Rebecca Taylor, area business manager at Kier, that they would be paid the parity rate in May this year.

“However, only a few days later Kier reneged on the agreement.

“The members were left with no option but to raise a formal grievance on Monday, June 22.

“On Tuesday, June 23, the grievance was passed to Smart Solutions by Jeremy Morrison, Kier HR, requesting that they deal with it.

“On Wednesday, June 24, my members turned up for work as normal only to be told that they were not required.

“This has never happened in two years of working for Kier through the agency, they have worked consistently for Kier.

“We believe that our members have been victimised for raising their grievance and fighting for fairness and parity of pay.

“What lessons have Keir learned? Kier have been in the High Court this week over blacklisting workers.

“GMB will not allow Kier to treat our members this way.

“We will fight tooth and nail for justice for these agency workers.”

A Kier spokesman said: “This largely fictitious GMB release is disappointing, if not surprising, given the pressure that trade unions are facing from new government legislation announced this week.

“Activity at Corby has absolutely nothing to do with the historical industry issue of blacklisting, as the GMB well know.

“Of the three grievances the GMB claims were made, Kier only received one on a delay to salary review, and this admin oversight was addressed immediately.

“Workers chose to host illegal strike activity instead of engaging in discussion, jeopardising public services, though importantly none of the agency workers involved chose to strike.

“The GMB’s additional claim of workers no longer being required is also false.

“With seasonal changes in workload we have to redeploy our agency workforce, and when not required on the Corby contract, agency staff were offered work on our neighbouring East Northants contract, but these two agency staff declined.

“Far from being unsupportive of our workforce, despite their actions, which broke their employment contract, those who took illegal strike action have all retained their jobs, and so no-one has faced a loss of employment.”

A spokesman for Corby Council said: “We are aware of the claims that have been made and are discussing the issue further with Kier to ensure that we are satisfied that all employees are treated in line with their contracts and current employment legislation.

“Corby Council is clear that we will not tolerate blacklisting by any of our contractors.”