Emma Hardy, the MP for Hull West and Hessle, has condemned a company in Hull for not providing sick pay to only some of its employees and called on the government to make it harder for employers to do this.
Speaking in Business Questions today, Emma spoke about the strikes at the FCC Environment plant in Hull and slammed the Spanish parent company for refusing to provide sick pay for all employees.
The effect of this is that the company is being subsidised by the state, through the means of statutory sick pay, for not paying sick pay.
FCC Environment carries out public sector contracts and workers carry out work in a hazardous environment.
Emma’s intervention comes after two visits to the picket line in Hull and ahead of a third strike that will start on the 1st May and last until the 14th May.
Wilmington strikers are fighting to share the same rights to paid sick leave as the managers and supervisors in the company they work for. At a recent meeting with FCC, UNISON argued that given the nature of the job, using heavy equipment to deal with contaminated waste in all weather conditions, a sick pay scheme is a ‘safety net’ for when people fall ill.
Unfortunately the attitude of FCC Managers; who receive sick pay; was that their blue collar employees “should find their own safety net”.
In the past workers suffering cancer were unable to receive sick pay and while receiving chemo and radiotherapy have had to attend work or lose pay.
Managers and supervisors with the same or similar illnesses would have been able to take time off on sick pay to recover.
Workers have previously stated that they would be prepared to forego their annual bonuses and other payments to ensure that the company is able to pay for sick pay for them.
FCC workers in Spain have also gone out on strike and lobbied the company’s head office in solidarity with workers in the UK.
UNISON are looking into whether this is a breach of the Equalities Act (2010) which covers discrimination in relation to ‘Protected Characteristics’, and which specifically mentions illnesses such as cancer as a recognised disability from the point of diagnosis.
Commenting, Emma said “It’s disgusting that FCC Environment has decided that they will only pay sick pay to their managers and not all employees. Sick pay is a basic right for employees and a basic duty for employers to pay- it is not something that you can pick and choose, it is part of the cost of employing somebody. It’s not good enough for a firm that is receiving public money in the form of government contracts to be subsidised by the government because it can’t be bothered to pay sick pay and would rather put that money towards profits for shareholders. I’m fully on the side of the workers in this dispute and have been down to the picket line twice already, they are doing everything they possibly can to come to a consensus with FCC and have even suggested they will give up their annual bonuses to secure this sick pay. It’s time for FCC to be reasonable and pay up and I’ll be doing everything I possibly can to make sure this happens.”