Workers in the so-called ‘soft services’ of catering, cleaning, security and laundry play an essential role in keeping the plant at Sellafield shipshape and secure. However, the value of their hard work is clearly not appreciated by their employer, outsourcing giant Mitie, which pays the 180 workers currently in dispute low wages and treats them with contempt.
When workers on strike for decent pay returned to work recently, Mitie subjected them to an ‘audit’ to check if targets were being met, deliberately ignoring the obvious fact that the backlog of work caused by the strike made some targets unachievable in the short term. Returning strikers whose facilities fell below standard were placed on a “performance improvement plan”.
This bullying tactic, effectively threatening to sack workers for daring to exercise their legal right to go on strike, has failed to cow workers into submission, instead spurring them on to further strikes, now extending into June.
Whilst its Sellafield workers are paid just £8.45 an hour, Mitie last year turned a profit of £83 million, and this year is projected by City estimates to be heading for £89 million. These profits are generated by stealing from workers the full value of their work. Marxism teaches us that this robbery is called the extraction of ‘surplus value’.
Mitie hopes to scoop up a lot of juicy contracts now that its major rivals in the outsourcing game, Carillion and Interserve, have bitten the dust. It has recently been added to a list of companies eligible to bid for government contracts.
As CEO Phil Bentley put it: “You think let’s hang in there and see what comes out when we shake the trees. In the long run consolidation has got to be a good thing.”
Mitie’s cynical struggle for market dominance will be good for shareholders but bad news for workers.
Workers are a hundred times right to be demanding an end to poverty wages and management bullying.
Support the Sellafield workers!