Craftsmen to walk out in Sheffield Council wages row

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AROUND 100 Sheffield Council craftsmen are holding a one-day strike tomorrow in protest at being left out of a recent pay review - which has led to their wages falling up to £4,000 a year below lesser-skilled labourers.

The workers are responsible for welding, repairs to street lights, road barriers and stone masonry.

Their duties also involve maintenance at market sites and welding repairs at Sheffield Homes properties.

Mark Keeling, convenor for Unite, one of three trade unions representing those striking, said: “Some of the workers are heading to the Town Hall on the day of the strike to present the council with a giant toilet seat to let councillors and officers know how they feel.”

Unite’s vote was 81.4 per cent in favour of the walkout, while the other two unions, GMB and UCATT, secured 100 per cent votes for a strike.

Mr Keeling added: “Being left out of the equal pay review means our members have seen salaries end up as much as £4,000 a year below workers such as labourers.

“The craftsmen have served apprenticeships and taken college courses to do their jobs, which are skilled work At the same time as the council is refusing to review craft wages, it is doing a review of managers’ wages in line with equal pay legislation.

“If you work with a screwdriver or spanner, it seems you’re forgotten.”

Peter Davies, of the GMB union, said the craftsmen had been ‘very reasonable’ and were not seeking back pay.

But he added: “The craftsmen were not included in the job evaluation process two years ago when labourers and other workers were. If you have served an apprenticeship and undergone training, you would expect to be on at least as much as a labourer.”

Julie Toner, director of human resources at Sheffield Council, said: “It is regrettable that the unions have taken the decision to take this action, as it will certainly not benefit their members.

“The craft trade unions were asked to participate in the equal pay review alongside other employees. They refused to enter into this agreement, therefore, their jobs were not evaluated.”