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North Ayrshire, Scotland: Union and Councillors Launch Living Wage Fight for School Cleaners
The Irvine Herald
Lex Brown

February 17, 2012
View the Original Article


A TRADE union is calling on a schools cleaning contractor to pay their workers the same wage as North Ayrshire Council.

Cleaners employed by the private firm MITIE at four schools are being paid more than £1 a week less than their council cleaner counterparts.

The GMB union’s campaign for wage parity has gained significant political support.

The SNP group and three Independent councillors have signed a petition along with 30 workers calling on MITIE to come good with the cash.

They have been joined by SNP and Labour MSPs and North Ayrshire’s two Labour MPs.

The union claim MITIE are refusing to pay up despite making a considerable profit from their contract at Greenwood and St Matthew’s academies and two schools in Arran and Saltcoats.

The GMB say their members are being paid £6.10 an hour – well short of the £7.20 an hour Living Wage.

This week Paul Arkison, the union’s full time official said: “It is time for this company to start investing. I believe MITIE are making significant profit from this contract and it is shameful they are failing to pay their staff the Living Wage of £7.20 an hour.

“They are more interested in profiteering than making an investment in their workforce.

“North Ayrshire Council have introduced a Living Wage and now the GMB, councillors, MSPs and MPs are calling on MITIE to do the same.

“Why should our members be getting £1.10 an hour less than their counterparts just along the road for doing exactly the same job?”

Seven of the eight SNP councillors have signed the petition.

The eighth member of their group is on long-term sick leave.

But none of the Labour group has signed up.

Council leader David O’Neill said signing the petition could compromise their position in any future contracts or tenders because they formed the administration.

He said: “It was Labour who introduced the Living Wage and it was Labour who increased it in the most recent budget.”

A spokesman for MITIE said: “As this is a contractual matter between us and our client it would not be appropriate for us to make any comment at this time.”