Rotherham cemetery staff secure major pay victory

Acceptance of a new offer ends long-running dispute with the private contractor

Black and white image of a cemetery

Cemetery maintenance staff in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, including gravediggers, have accepted a pay offer from their employer, UNISON announced today.

The workers, who are employed by private contractor Glendale Grounds Maintenance, have been involved in a long-running dispute over pay, but the company has finally put forward an offer that the staff have accepted.

The accepted offer will be in place for two years and means staff will be paid what was the real living wage – £10.90 per hour – at the time the offer was made, plus 20p, from 25 October, when the offer was accepted.

Staff will also receive the real living wage backdated to 1 April 2023, which amounts to over £400 for some of the lowest-paid workers.

Wages will also be updated in April next year to the revised real living wage, plus 20p.

Payments made to staff to be available if needed on weekends and bank holidays will also double, from £20 to £40 – and the rate for staff responsible for opening and closing cemetery gates will also increase.

The agreed pay rise means the lowest-paid workers will see their salary increase by almost 30% over the two-year period.

As a result of the deal, strike action planned for October and November has been cancelled.

UNISON Yorkshire and Humberside regional organiser Dan Wood said: “This is a fantastic outcome for staff who were sick of missing out simply because they’re employed by a private company rather than the council.

“Workers were ready to walk out to make their feelings known. Luckily, Glendale has seen sense and put forward an offer that staff are happy with, so the dispute can be put to bed.”

Rotherham branch secretary Ruth Askwith said: “Workers have stood up for themselves and got the result they wanted.

“It means they can now concentrate on doing the job they care passionately about – and will get a fair wage for doing it.”