Unions call on Wandsworth Council to end ‘two-tier workforce’

Trade unions protested against Wandsworth Council’s pay policy last week and put pressure on the authority to end inequalities between contracted workers and full-time council employees.

The TUC drew attention to zero hours contracts at a protest last Thursday, while the Battersea and Wandsworth Trade Unions’ Council and GMB union focused on what they call the council’s ‘two-tier workforce’, where full-time council employees are treated more favourably than contractors.

The unions asked Wandsworth to emulate Kensington and Chelsea Council by ensuring that council contractors pay their staff the London Living Wage.

Spencer Barnshaw, secretary of Battersea and Wandsworth Trade Unions’ Council, said: “We are here today as part of Love Unions week and to kick off a campaign focusing on Wandsworth Council’s two-tier workforce. I think the main issue is that Wandsworth are underwriting exploitation within the borough because they are saying it is nothing to do with them.

“They have outsourced work to companies that are paying less than the London Living Wage and the workers are earning on average £100 a week less than workers being employed by the council. That is totally unfair.”

PROTEST: The demonstration also formed part of Love Unions week.

He added: “I also think the moral compass has changed on this. There are people living in the borough, paying council tax who do not want that to result in the exploitation of workers.”

According to Andy Prendergast, senior GMB Southern officer, most of the outsourced workers except for the parking attendants are on are just above a national minimum wage of £7.38 to age 24 and £7.83 for those older than 25.

Assuming these workers are paid £8 an hour and work 45 hours a week, compared to a full-time council employee they lose out on £2.55 an hour, £115 a week and £5,967 a year. Trade unions argue the contracted workers also receive less generous pensions, holiday, and sick pay.

A council spokesperson said the council pays all its staff the London Living Wage and supports businesses in the borough, including its contractors, that are trying to do the same.

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