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Amey bosses celebrated profits while offering below-inflation pay rises

·4-min read

Bosses at the outsourcing firm Amey celebrated a £500m jump in revenue and £92m rise in profits even as it clashed with workers over a below-inflation pay offer that a union says “would shame Scrooge”, a video reveals.

The self-described “largest strategic supplier to government” employs thousands of staff on outsourced contracts and has been fighting calls from staff, including school cleaners, caretakers and bin collectors, to be paid at the same level as those employed directly by councils.

The company said in May that such demands could lead to pay rises of up to 30% that would be “fundamentally unsustainable”, but a video briefing accidentally shared online appears to tell a different story.

In the clip, obtained by the Guardian, Amey’s chief executive, Amanda Fisher, who was paid more than £750,000 last year, and the chief financial officer, Andrew Nelson, praise each other on an outstandingly good start to the year.

“The high level numbers show that the turnover of the core business was some £2.4bn,” Nelson says. “More remarkable is that this is almost £500m or 25% more than we had expected when we put the budget together, and as Amanda said all of the businesses exceeded their original targets.”

Nelson goes on to say that profits, or earnings, are likely to be £92m higher than expected.

Amey employees who clean and maintain schools in Glasgow are preparing to go on strike in order to achieve pay parity with those employed by the local authority.

In the video, Fisher says the company is “committed to paying the real living wage” and will continue to do so. Amey is paying the Glasgow cleaners £9.90 an hour, the minimum required under the real living wage deal.

Fisher said most staff would be awarded a 4.21% pay rise, far below the rate of inflation, which hit 9.4% in June and which the Bank of England forecasts will rise to 13% later this year.

John Slaven, an organiser for Amey’s union, the GMB, said: “Amey’s treatment of cleaners and janitors and maintenance workers is Dickensian. Amey is a multinational company raking in vast profits but is driving our members into poverty with a pay offer that would shame Scrooge.

“Once again Glasgow city council need to look at the labour practice of Amey. They are the contract holder and ultimately responsible for the exploitation that is going under their noses.”

A GMB union spokesperson said: “Amey is getting rich off the back of public money. But the working people who clean our children’s schools and collect our rubbish are left out of pocket. It isn’t right that our money is being used to help Amey to higher profits, when its workers are struggling in the cost of living crisis. We need Amey to pay its workers fairly.”

The video, which is from a briefing from February and was unintentionally made available publicly via Microsoft Teams, was deleted after the Guardian approached Amey for comment.

When first approached, a spokesperson for Amey said: “We don’t recognise the figure for Amey’s finances you have quoted. Our most recent published accounts, for 2019 and 2020, show we made a loss.”

When sent the video, a second Amey spokesperson said: “The figures provided in the internal video from earlier in the year was an early forecast of a variance in revenue to budget regarding specific parts of the business. They were not a forecast for Amey as a whole.”

Amey has also been in dispute with workers who collect bins in the Elmbridge and Surrey Heath boroughs of Surrey, who claimed they were paid £3 an hour less than council staff doing similar jobs.

In a third statement on Friday, the company announced it had reached agreement with the bin workers in Surrey, adding: “Where we are in pay negotiations, we have made strong offers, in line with inflation, which maintain salaries at or above rates for other similar roles.”

Amey offered the Surrey bin collectors a 10% pay rise, or 25% for bin lorry drivers.

The outsourcer, which employs about 15,000 people in the UK, is owned by the Spanish conglomerate Ferrovial.