Unison score victory for Canary Wharf contract staff

Submitted by Anon on 5 February, 2004 - 4:18

TELCO, the east London community-led alliance, has won an important victory for its Living Wage campaign, which could have far-reaching implications for pay negotiations involving contracted staff in the private sector.

The alliance, whose members include trade union Unison, has succeeded in persuading Barclays Bank to accept responsibility for minimum pay and conditions for contractors' staff at its new tower HQ in Canary Wharf.

The agreement, which sees Barclays breaking with all the other companies in Docklands, means that staff will receive conditions in line with the socially responsible standards for which TELCO has campaigned over the past two years.

Staff are typically paid just above the national minimum wage, with scant holiday and few other entitlements.

As a result of the talks, cleaners at Barclays Canary Wharf offices will get £6 per hour (less than what TELCO calculates is a London Living Wage but above the current going rate), a pension with 4.5% employer contribution, 15 days paid sick leave and eight paid bank holidays, in addition to 20 days annual leave.

Bonuses and training are also included in the deal.

Unison national officer for bargaining support, Deborah Littman, welcomed the development as a significant breakthrough in the ongoing battle over pay and conditions for contracted staff.

"We have finally succeeded in forcing employers to take responsibility for the pay and conditions offered through their contractors," she said.

"We've achieved such agreements in the public sector, but this may be the first time we have stopped a private sector company passing the buck.

"The way TELCO went about this was to say that social responsibility, about which most of these corporations make great play, is not just about the environment and making charitable donations. It is about ensuring minimum labour standards for anyone who is employed directly, or indirectly, by them."

In the short term, Littman hoped the Canary Wharf victory would have a knock-on effect for the 200 Unison members who recently voted for strike action at Barnsley District Hospital.

The contractor affected by the Barclays agreement is Rentokil Initial, the parent company of the contractor at the hospital, where staff are currently on minimum wage and receive only five days' sick pay a year.

  • Taken from Unison News

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