Amey bosses celebrated gains and offered wage increases below inflation | corporate governance
Bosses at outsourcing firm Amey celebrated a £500m jump in sales and a £92m rise in profits, even as it clashed with workers over a below-inflation wage offer that a union says would “shame Scrooge”, as a video shows.
The self-proclaimed “government’s largest strategic supplier” employs thousands of workers on outsourced contracts and is fighting demands from workers, including school cleaners, janitors and garbage collectors, to be paid at the same level as those employed directly by municipalities.
The company said in May that such demands could result in pay rises of up to 30% that would be “fundamentally unsustainable”, but a video briefing accidentally shared online seems to tell a different story.
In the clip, obtained by the Guardian, Amey’s chief executive Amanda Fisher, who received more than £750,000 last year, and CFO Andrew Nelson praise each other for an exceptionally good start to the year.
“The high-level figures show that core business turnover was around £2.4 billion,” says Nelson. “More remarkably, this is almost £500m or 25% more than we anticipated when we put the budget together and as Amanda said all companies have exceeded their original targets.”
Nelson goes on to say profits or revenue are likely to be £92million higher than expected.
Amey workers cleaning and maintaining schools in Glasgow are preparing to go on strike in a bid to win equal pay with local authority workers.
In the video, Fisher says the company is “obligated to pay real living expenses” and will continue to do so. Amey pays Glasgow cleaners £9.90 an hour, the minimum required under the Real Living Wage Agreement.
Fisher said most staff would get a 4.21% pay rise, well below inflation, which hit 9.4% in June and which the Bank of England forecast will rise to 13% later this year.
John Slaven, an organizer from Amey’s GMB union, said: “Amey’s treatment of cleaners, janitors and maintenance workers is Dickensian. Amey is a multinational company that rakes in huge profits but impoverishes our members with a salary offer that would shame Scrooge.
“Glasgow City Council needs to look again at Amey’s labor practices. They are contract holders and ultimately responsible for the exploitation that comes their way.”
A spokesman for the GMB union said: “Amey is getting rich on public money. But the workers who clean our children’s schools and collect our garbage are left out of pocket. It’s not right that our money is being used to help Amey make more profits when its workers are struggling with the cost of living crisis. We need Amey to pay its workers fairly.”
The video, which stems from a February briefing and was inadvertently made public via Microsoft Teams, was deleted after the Guardian reached out to Amey for comment.
When first approached, an Amey spokesman said: “We do not recognize the figure you quoted for Amey’s finances. Our most recently released financial statements for 2019 and 2020 show that we have made a loss.”
When the video aired, a second Amey spokesperson said: “The numbers provided in the internal video from earlier in the year were an early forecast of revenue deviation from budget related to certain parts of the business. They weren’t a prognosis for Amey as a whole.”
Amey was also at odds with workers collecting rubbish bins in the Elmbridge and Surrey Heath boroughs of Surrey, who claimed they were being paid £3 an hour less than council staff doing similar work.
In a third statement on Friday, the company said it had reached an agreement with refuse workers in Surrey, adding: “While we engage in wage negotiations, we have made strong offers, in line with inflation, that have wages at or above keep the sentences for others in similar roles.”
Amey offered Surrey refuse collectors a 10% pay rise or 25% for refuse truck drivers.
The outsourcer, which employs around 15,000 people in Great Britain, belongs to the Spanish conglomerate Ferrovial.