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Kier road workers stage sick pay protest

Highways workers at Kier are planning a protest on Wednesday following a row over sick pay.

Construction union Unite is backing the demonstration at Kier’s Basingstoke office following a dispute on its Highways England Area 3 contract which covers Hampshire, Surrey, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and parts of Buckinghamshire.

Unite officials said the workers – who have provided a seven day, 24 hour service throughout the pandemic – only receive statutory sick pay (SSP) worth just £96.35 a week when off work.

Office based Kier staff  and workers directly employed by client Highways England receive full sick pay for up to three months.

Unite regional officer Malcom Bonnett said: “Kier’s workers who operate in all weathers to keep the South East’s motorway network fully operational deserve full sick pay, when they are ill.

“The pandemic has exposed the fact that workers simply can’t survive on SSP which is less than £100 a week.

“The lack of sick pay results in workers continuing to come to work when they are ill. In normal times, due to the safety critical work they undertake. this could have tragic consequences. During the Covid pandemic it leads to unnecessary risk of exposure to infection.

“It is simply unjustifiable that office based workers receive full sick pay while those working on the motorway network only receive SSP.”

A Kier spokesperson said: “The terms and conditions of our operational workforce in Highways, including those employed in Area 3, are aligned with the Construction Industry Joint Council, which is a union-supported national agreement.

“The welfare of our employees is a key priority for us and we are therefore committed to working through this matter in collaboration with Unite.”