Road gritting staff strike for a second time

Gritters on strike
Gritters on strike

Gritters who work on the M1 in Milton Keynes have gone on strike over pay for a second time.

Members of Unite trade union, who are employed by private firm Amey, say the strike has been prompted by a “paltry” pay rise offer of 1.75 per cent and their company’s “clear attempts to dismantle collective bargaining with union members”.

The union wants a five per cent pay increase, claiming that staff pay has fallen in real terms in recent years.

Regional officer Richard Gates said: “This is a company which manages over 30,000 miles of local highways across the UK, gritting roads and maintaining crash barriers. The work our members do is fundamental to safety on the roads and their pay and conditions surely must reflect that reality.

“Amey talks of the need for ‘safe well-functioning road networks’ but a good starting point would be acting in a responsible and professional manner towards their employees – after all road users are expected to do likewise when they get behind the wheel.

“Unite members have no wish to take strike action but are being forced to do so by a company which at the moment is simply unwilling to listen nor address our concerns.

“74 per cent of our members backed this strike on the back of a 100 per cent turnout; our resolve is strong. More walkouts will follow unless Amey starts talking.”

The 24-hour strike is running from 6am today.

The striking staff at the Newport Pagnell depot do maintenance work, repair crash barriers, replace signs, clear road spillages and crash debris, plus winter maintenance such as gritting and snow-ploughing.

The Highways Agency run the contract for Area 8, which Amey won in April 2014. The area is essentially the M1 from Newport Pagnell down to the M25 and the A5 from Milton Keynes down to M1 Junction 9.

They do not do any other roads in Milton Keynes apart from the A5, which are all still run by Milton Keynes Council.