Workers were given pay cut after council mistake

Cleaning staff at Kinsley Primary School on first day of indefinite strike action over pay cuts and changes to their contracts.
Cleaning staff at Kinsley Primary School on first day of indefinite strike action over pay cuts and changes to their contracts.

Striking cleaners at Kinsley Academy had a pay cut after a mistake by the council when it transferred their jobs to a private company, it has emerged.

Wakefield Council has admitted it did not tell their new employer C&D Cleaning Services about an agreement to pay the cleaners the Local Living Wage of £7.85 an hour.

The council has apologised and the company said it would pay Leslie Leake, Marice Hall and Karen McGee - who have been on strike since the start of September - the correct hourly rate.

But the cleaners were still on strike yesterday because of other disputed matters including holiday entitlement and sick pay, which Unison claims the company also cut.

Wakefield Council said it did tell C&D it was paying the cleaners the living wage, but not that the arrangement should continue into this financial year.

Helen Grantham, the council’s assistant chief executive, said: “As soon as this was identified the council made significant efforts to rectify the situation by providing details of the most recent agreement to C&D Cleaning Services Ltd so that any issues arising regarding the Local Living Wage could be addressed.

“We apologise for this oversight and recognise that this, among other issues outside the council’s control, has caused difficulty for all parties.”

C&D, which took over the contract in April, said it was not told about the agreement until September 29.

The company said in a statement: “C&D was subsequently provided with details of that Agreement by Wakefield Council this month.

“C&D have always maintained that they would be willing to pay the correct rate of pay upon production of evidence.

“Had C&D been provided with that information when first requested, it is unlikely that there would have been any dispute over the cleaners’ hourly rate of pay.”

The statement, which has been posted on the company’s website, said C&D believed Unison had hindered the process of resolving the dispute.

It added: “C&D regrets that the cleaners have felt the need to take strike action.

“However, it is clear that any issues over the hourly rate of pay were beyond C&D’s control.

“Now that C&D has been provided with the information setting out the correct rate of pay, the necessary steps have been taken to ensure that any monies owed to the cleaners have been paid to them.”

Unison said it was consulting the cleaners over the pay move.

On Monday the cleaners held a Halloween-themed protest near the company’s offices in Barnsley. Unison said it was meant as a light-hearted way of highlighting the strike.

Yesterday the Kinsley cleaners tweeted: “Day 42 of our strike.

“Thanks for your continued support.”