PCS demands better pay and conditions for Interserve workers at government departments

Union says cleaners, security guards, catering staff and other contractors have been treated like "second class members of the civil service"
Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive/PA Images

The PCS union has submitted a joint pay claim for contractors working for Interserve across a host of government departments, calling for a pay rise, bonus and better sick pay arrangements for contractors.

The union is hoping to use its collective bargaining power to secure a better deal for workers at the company, which provides facilities management services at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Education, the Department for Transport, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Cabinet Office, the Canary Wharf civil service hub, the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence.

It is calling on Interserve to pay at least the living wage on all contracts; to give its workers full occupational sick pay from day one; and a consolidated pay award at least equal to the rate of inflation, plus 3%.

Interserve should also give its key workers a £500 bonus in recognition of the work they have done to keep government departments running during the coronavirus pandemic, the union said.

All Interserve’s facilities management staff – including cleaners, security guards, catering and maintenance staff and porters – have been given key worker status during the Covid-19 crisis.

However, PCS said most are paid only the national minimum wage and are only entitled statutory sick pay of £19.17 per day from the fourth day of sickness.

The demands should be met through a single set of pay negotiations covering all Interserve contracts, the union said. It also called for Interserve to recognise PCS on all government contracts.

The pay claim comes a month after outsourcing giant Mitie announced it would buy Interserve’s facilities management arm – making it the largest facilities management company in the UK, with more than 77,500 employees.

A spokesperson for the union told CSW it wanted to secure a pay rise and equal sick pay arrangements with the civil servants who work at the departments they serve before shareholders vote on the merger later this year.

The union hopes for a negotiated settlement but we would “not rule out industrial action if Interserve remain unreasonable”, they said.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Our facilities members in Interserve have been treated like second-class members of the civil service and this has to change.

"The work they do is essential for the upkeep of government departments and they deserve a decent pay rise and good terms and conditions." 

Jonathan Refoy, group corporate affairs director at Interserve, said: “As the PCS is well aware, we have no formal recognition agreement in place with it across our central government contracts. We work with all our trade union partners through long standing agreed mechanisms to discuss pay. We will be approaching the 2020 pay review on this basis.

"The suggestion by the PCS that all our valued front line colleagues are treated as second-class workers in the civil service is simply untrue.”

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