WHAT: Campaigners will protest about ESS wage robbery at the Royal Navy vs Australian Navy rugby match
WHEN: Monday 12 March at 6.15pm
WHERE: United Services Sports Ground, Burnaby Road, Portsmouth PO12 2HB.

Community groups and Labour party members will join together with Unite, Britain’s largest union, to protest over ‘ESS wage robbery’ at the Royal Navy rugby match in Portsmouth on Monday 12 March.

The match is being sponsored by ESS, part of the multi-million pound Compass Group, who have stolen two to four weeks from the wages of low paid cleaners, mess hands and housekeepers employed at local Royal Navy bases, including Fort Blockhouse, Whale Island, HMS Sultan and HMS Collingwood.

Last year, without negotiation, to boost its profits ESS forced the workers to accept new contracts, which resulted in them only being employed and paid for 50 or 48 weeks a year.

The cut in the number of working weeks resulted in the workforce finding it more difficult to make ends meet, with some having to give up running a car. To add to the workforce’s misery, ESS has cut their holiday entitlement for one day per non worked fortnight.

ESS has undertaken an aggressive response to Unite’s campaign with members reporting high levels of bullying and harassment, including workers being threatened with dismissal.

As well as sponsoring the rugby match ESS is hosting a pre-match dinner for a select group of attendees. Unite will be protesting outside the event with a banner which says: “ESS don’t steal out weeks”

As part of the demonstration and Unite’s campaign against ESS wage robbery campaigners are currently gathering signatures for a petition which will be presented to local Gosport Conservative MP Caroline Dineage.

Unite regional officer Bob Middleton said: “ESS has sufficient funds to sponsor a rugby match and pay for a slap up meal for the great and the good but not to pay their workers for a full year.

“We will be demonstrating to ensure that senior people in the Ministry of Defence, the Royal Navy and the local community have absolutely no excuse in understanding the injustice ESS is inflicting on a dedicated workforce.

“These are public sector contracts and it is beyond disgraceful that taxpayers money that should be going into workers’ wages is instead being trousered by preening fat cats.

“ESS workers were already low paid but the company’s actions have tipped them over the edge from just about keeping their heads above water to financially drowning. You have to ask how can ESS management sleep at night.”


For more information please contact Unite communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235. Email: barckley.sumner@unitetheunion.org

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.