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Two week strike looms for Kone, United Kingdom

26 May, 2015IndustriALL Global Union’s UK affiliate Unite the Union is urging management at Finnish-owned lift firm Kone to intervene in a dispute over a tracker device in employees’ vehicles, as a two-week strike is scheduled to start on 27 May.

The tracker system, known as VAMS, is used for measuring workloads. Unite says VAMS should not be used to verify time sheets or site arrival and leaving times as it is unreliable – for example, one driver was alleged have driven 1,000 miles in one day without refueling.

Unite is now appealing to company management in Finland after talks in the UK broke down after ten hours. The strike action by 300 engineering service workers is due to start on 27 May and end on 9 June. This will run in tandem with a ban on overtime, night call ban and on-call ban, which has been in force since 27 March.

Unite national officer Linda McCulloch said:

“Unite is calling on the top executives of this Finnish-owned company to intervene. Our members are furious at the way they have been treated and their legitimate concerns about VAMS ignored. They have no confidence in the UK management.

“Evidence has shown the mileage recorded by VAMS for business or private use is not accurate and exaggerates the amount of mileage being completed. This will lead to employees being wrongly assessed for private mileage and could lead to wrong deductions from wages and ultimately disciplinary situations.”

Unite is calling for a new framework document to iron out the problems with VAMS which management is currently refusing. There is already a framework agreement for handheld devices – and Unite is looking for a similar agreement for VAMS.

In November 2014 the IndustriALL lifts and escalators sector adopted a demand for the abstention from monitoring systems, called the Vienna declaration.

IndustriALL director of mechanical engineering, Matthias Hartwich, says that imposing this kind of pressure on the employees is unacceptable:

In November last year, the lifts and escalators network told the big four operators, including Kone, not to use this kind of tracking system. Instead of using unreliable tracking systems, Kone should provide the staff with proper health and safety means and training.

The main Kone sites are at Chertsey in Surrey, Gateshead, Glasgow, Keighley in Yorkshire and Warrington.