Union to hold protest in Gosport over claims of unfair contracts

Bob Middleton of Unite
Bob Middleton of Unite

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WORKERS will be holding a protest over claims their working year could be cut by up to four weeks.

Cleaning staff and mess hands from Ministry of Defence premises in Portsmouth and surrounding areas are holding the demonstration next week.

Union Unite will be supporting the employees, who work at Fort Blockhouse on Whale Island, HMS Collingwood in Fareham and HMS Sultan in Gosport, along with Gosport Labour Party.

The workers, who are employed by ESS, which is part of Compass Group, say contracts cutting their working year from 52 weeks to either 50 or 48 weeks have been forced upon them.

Bob Middleton, Unite regional officer, said: ‘Unite will not stand idly by and allow our low-paid members to be penalised and have their hard-earned wages robbed from them.

‘ESS and the parent company Compass are acting like Robin Hood in reverse; they are stealing from the poor and giving to the rich.

‘These workers are effectively being paid by the taxpayer and it is disgraceful that the Ministry of Defence has put its head in the sand and pretended that it has nothing to do with it.

‘I am sure that the community will be absolutely disgusted to learn that local workers have been treated in this manner and will fully support our campaign.’

Unite said ESS forced the workers to accept the new contracts last year without negotiation and workers have said it has become even more difficult to make ends meet.

During the demonstration Unite and the Labour Party will be collecting signatures for a petition opposing the ESS contracts. The petition will be presented to MPs Caroline Dinenage, Stephen Morgan and Penny Mordaunt.

An ESS spokesman said: ‘We are aware of this planned protest.

‘We continually review the working patterns of our colleagues to ensure they meet the evolving needs of our customers and clients and the changes we have implemented are in line with this.

‘We remain committed to having an open and constructive dialogue with our colleagues.’

The demonstration will be held in Gosport high street on January 30 at 11.30am.