'Funerals as usual during strike'

LOCAL funeral director Mummery is expected to operate a normal service on Monday while colleagues around the country are going on strike.

Thursday, 21st October 2004, 3:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 8:08 pm

Mummery is now part of Co-operative Funeralcare who were said to be "saddened" that a minority of workers had decided to take industrial action over a pay dispute.

Staff at the Devonshire Road funeral parlour were making no comment this week and referring all enquiries to their Manchester head office.

It is understood that a funeral has been arranged by Mummery for Monday at Eastbourne Crematorium.

Mummery employs six staff at the town centre branch and a further two at Sidley.

Phil Edwards, deputy head of PR for the Co-operative Group said he did not wish to speculate on whether any local employees were joining in the one day strike but had enough information that they would be "operating a normal service."

A statement by Co-operative Funeralcare said that the two unions representing workers had decided to impose an eight-week work to rule beginning on October 22 with the one day strike called for Monday with the possibility of further action to come.

"Co-operative Funeralcare has offered a pay deal already accepted by almost 80 per cent of the workforce which includes a pay rise of over five per cent for some categories of staff, taking into account the 3.5 per cent minimum annual rise all staff will receive.

"The increase in salaries is coupled with a commitment to a new two-year pay plan from next year and a review of working hours and practices."

The offer was made following an independent study commissioned jointly with the trade unions which showed the new wage rates were comparable with other workers in hospitals and emergency services.

Phil Edwards said he could not speak individually but an awful lot of people working wanted nothing to do with the action.

Employees are represented by the general union GMB and the Transport and General Workers Union and claim take home pay can be as little as 800 a month. Set against this the Co-op Group increased its profit last year to 327.3m from 231.4m.

The unions argue that their pay does not reflect the sensitive and important nature of the work which involves dealing with recently bereaved people and being regularly required to be on call to attend situations for seven day, 24 hours a day rotas.

Arthur C Towner Ltd, the oldest established local family run funeral directors with branches in Bexhill, Battle and St Leonards, said they had not been approached by Mummery to assist with any funeral services on Monday.