Police station cleaners are facing a pay cut amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Kier Group – which provides building maintenance services to Staffordshire Police – is reducing staff pay by up to 20 per cent for the next three months as a response to the crisis.
The move will affect at least 10 cleaners in supervisor roles who work in Staffordshire Police buildings, along with others providing services to local authorities.
Union Unison has described Kier’s move as ‘disgusting’ and ‘unacceptable’ at a time when cleaners are helping to keep buildings free of coronavirus. The union has advised its members to reject the pay cut from Kier.
Kier says the pay cut – which will affect all 6,500 of its staff, including board members – will allow the group ‘to continue operating as efficiently as possible’ during the outbreak.
But Rob Birch, branch secretary of Staffordshire Police Unison, says the affected workers are already facing tough conditions due to staffing shortages.
He said: “The pay cut doesn’t affect most cleaners because it would put them below the minimum wage, but it does affect supervisors – including those who are having to do cleaning shifts themselves because of vacancies.
“Some of them are having to work up to 60 hours a week. They’re not getting paid overtime, so they’re effectively already being paid below the minimum wage. These are people who are keeping us all safe during this pandemic.
“Workers have to accept the pay cut – Kier can’t just impose it – so we have advised our members to respond and say they do not accept it. Kier could then terminate everyone and re-hire them on a new contract with lower pay, but we would hope it wouldn’t do that. It has vacancies for cleaners as it is, and this could make that even worse if people don’t want to come back.
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“We have been talking to Staffordshire Police and the police, fire and crime commissioner Matthew Ellis about this and they have been very supportive.”
Kier Group has a 10-year contract with Staffordshire Police and Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service to provide facilities management. It runs until 2025.
Along with the cleaning of buildings and grounds maintenance, the contract covers a range of other services, including waste management, repairs and servicing.
Mr Ellis says talks are ongoing with Kier Group. He said: “We’re having discussions at the moment, and I’m hopeful of a positive resolution.”
Kier Group, which was founded in Stoke-on-Trent in 1928, is now one of the largest construction companies in the country, as well as being active in support services and property management.
All its staff are being asked to take a reduction of between 7.5 per cent and 20 per cent in their base salaries or fees for a three-month period. The company is also bringing forward the closure of its Bedfordshire head office to the end of April.
A Kier spokesman said: “On March 22, we confirmed a number of measures taken in response to COVID-19, including the executive committee taking a three-month reduction in their base salary.
“On March 27, we announced that further groups of employees would also take a three-month salary reduction, ranging from 7.5 per cent to 20 per cent dependent on their grade and our executive directors would take a 25 per cent salary reduction during this period. These are difficult decisions which are necessary in order for us to operate efficiently now, and in the future.
“During this time, we remain committed to serving the Staffordshire community and we will continue to engage with our employees, client and the union on this matter.”