Housing workers at Tower Hamlets Community Housing are set to take two weeks of strike action from Monday 4 June 2018. They are opposing the imposition of a “market based” pay system.
Instead of NJC Local Government Pay, based on Job Evaluations that seek to secure equal pay for work of equal value, the new system relies on “market intelligence” on the pay rate for each role provided by a private consultancy company, Inbucon.
Staff are not allowed to know what roles in what organisations their pay has been compared to, the range of salaries, or even pay rates for other roles as all this is “commercially confidential”.
Although the new scheme offered short term increases for some staff they still voted to reject. As one member explained “Our pay will be market tested every two years with no guarantee that it won’t go down. “ Another explained “How can you guarantee equality in pay if you don’t know how it is determined and you can’t challenge it”. Others were mindful that whilst some protection now applied it would be worth less and less as time went on.
Strikers intend to take their campaign to local residents. THCH was set up through partial transfer of Tower Hamlets Council’s Housing stock. Staff and residents were given promises about protecting their rights as tenants, residents and workers.
Staff believe that introducing market pay breaks promises made to them. They will be alerting tenants to the impact on services and warning them that if promises to staff can be broken what does that mean for promises to residents.
The introduction of market pay is yet another example of arms length organisations like housing associations adopting private business methods. These market methods don’t deliver genuinely affordable housing nor fair conditions for workers.
It might be difficult for many Plymouth in UNISON members to get to London on Monday but at a recent Branch Meeting we have agreed to offer whatever solidarity we can.
Branch Secretary Kevin Treweeks sent this message to be read out at the Rally
” Well done to Tower Hamlets UNISON members for standing up for equal pay. So many employers now are looking to introduce American style systems where pay is based on how you are judged as a worker using performance appraisals and personal qualifications and experience, rather than on the job that you do. They want an atmosphere of competition and suspicion not co-operation and solidarity by making it a disciplinary offence to know each others pay rates. Job evaluation systems are not perfect (not even the NJC one!) but they do show a commitment to reward work of equal value with equal pay, regardless of race, gender or disability. The market offers only reward for those whose work can be monetised, a wholey unsuitable concept for the work of social value that people like you do. Good luck with your struggle and I look forward to hearing about your victory at Conference ”