Unions ramp up G4S security-staff strikes at DWP

Both GMB and PCS members will walk out this month as the unions try to increase pressure on contractor in pay dispute
GMB members on strike in Slough in May. Photo: Maureen McLean/Alamy Stock Photo

Security staff working at the Department for Work and Pensions will ramp up strikes this month in an ongoing dispute over pay.

Members of the GMB union on DWP’s security contract with G4S Solutions will work a week-on, week-off pattern from mid-June in a bid to increase pressure on the contracting giant to increase pay. It has scheduled four week-long strikes beginning at midnight on 17 June and 1, 15 and 29 July.

Around 200 PCS members on the same contract will also walk out for seven days starting at midnight on 17 June, the union has announced.

G4S security staff on the DWP contract who are GMB members began a series of strikes last month, before PCS members on the contract voted overwhelmingly to walk out in a ballot last month.

The unions are demanding a pay rise for securty guards and a greater pay differential between grades. Security guards are only paid £11.44 an hour – the minimum wage for over-21s – and their supervisors receive just 1p an hour more.

Both PCS and GMB have said G4S has refused to talk to them to resolve the dispute.

In a statement, PCS said: “G4S, which turns over billions of pounds every year, is a minimum wage employer and continues to refuse to pay a decent pay increase to a group of workers, many of whom face violence in the workplace every working day.”

“We demand that G4S gets back round the table and starts to meaningfully address the chronic low pay experienced by a group of workers who put their bodies on the line every day to keep civil servants and the public safe,” it added.

The strike will involve security staff working in jobcentres and DWP back-of-house areas.

GMB's first walkout over the dispute in early May forced dozens of sites to close. Around 70 jobcentres – around one in 10 – were unable to provide business-as-usual services as a result of the industrial action, and the strike also impacted administrative centres.

However, GMB has said it has evidence that there is an agreement between G4S and DWP to use agency staff to cover striking staff during the dispute – something it described as "highly contentious", saying the union has "severe concerns" about safety.

A G4S spokesperson said: "Our dedicated security colleagues do a great job, sometimes in difficult circumstances. We urge the GMB to present our offer to our employees, which is both above minimum wage and inflation. We are keen to bring this dispute to an amicable conclusion.

“The safety of our employees and the people and buildings they protect is our priority. In the event of further industrial action we will continue to work with the DWP on what have been highly effective contingency plans."

The spokesperson said G4S has made 12 pay offers to the GMB Union, which has only taken two to their members to ballot on. The latest offer included a 6.5% uplift backdated and reinstatement of all grade differentials.

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