Manchester Mears to award 20% pay rise in equal pay dispute


Housing maintenance employees who work for repair and maintenance organisation Mears in Manchester are to receive a 20% pay increase as a result of strike action over an equal pay dispute.

Approximately 180 employees, who are members of the trade union Unite, employed by Manchester Mears and Manchester Working, a joint venture organisation operated by Mears, will benefit from the new pay deal.

In addition to the 20% all-employee pay increase, the new deal also includes the equalisation of pay within and across trade groups, parity of pay with similar organisations in the sector, and the removal of a charter that would have resulted in adverse changes to employees’ contracts, according to Unite.

The final pay deal was reached through negotiations between Mears and Manchester council after maintenance employees undertook more than 80 days of strike action since May 2017 in a dispute over pay parity. Unite states that some employees at both Manchester Mears and Manchester Working were being paid up to £3,500 less than comparative employees for performing the same work.

The affected employees perform repairs and maintenance work across 11,000 council properties managed by Northwards Housing, via a contract tendered by Manchester City Council.

Andy Fisher, regional co-ordinating officer at Unite, said: “This is a victory for solidarity and direct action. Our members have stuck together through thick and thin. There were those who said these contracts were so broken they could not be fixed, but Unite has proved them wrong.

“The strike has brought the workforce closer together as a workforce and who will be primed to push back against the employer if fresh industrial relations issues develop in the future.”

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A spokesperson at Mears added: “We are happy that negotiations have finally concluded, however the figure quoted by Unite of a 20% pay increase ‘across the board’ is simply incorrect and totally misleading.

“We have agreed terms to standardise contracts, which in reality means that pay has increased for some but not for all, and for others so have their hours of work. It is also incorrect to refer to a ‘sackers charter’; there never was and there never will be such a thing at Mears. All our terms and conditions for employment are made clear in new and existing contracts, as is normal practice.”