Second union to join G4S security-staff strike at DWP

PCS members on DWP’s G4S contract vote to walk out after GMB strikes closed 70 jobcentres last week
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By Joseph Williams

17 May 2024

A second union representing outsourced security staff at the Department for Work and Pensions has voted for strike action after walkouts forced dozens of jobcentres to close last week.

PCS members working on DWP’s security contract with G4S Solutions overwhelmingly voted to walk out in a dispute over pay. The ballot, which ended this week, had a 54.59% turnout, with over 95% of those participating voting for strike action. 

The ballot means PCS members on the G4S contract – around 200 in total – can join GMB’s ongoing strike action. Security guards represented by GMB are set to stage a two-day strike at the end of this month, after downing tools for two days last week.

More than 1,000 workers have been on strike so far, leaving around 70 jobcentres unable to provide business-as-usual services. GMB has accused DWP and G4S of bringing in untrained agency staff to provide cover. 

PCS is demanding a pay rise for G4S workers on the contract, as well as a greater pay differential between grades.  The point of contention is that G4S security guards are currently paid £11.44 an hour, and their supervisors are paid just 1p more. 

Last month, when G4S workers were being balloted, PCS general secretary Fran Heathcote said jobcentre security staff support the delivery of vital services to often very vulnerable benefits claimants.

"Our members work on the front line, playing a critical role in keeping their civil servant colleagues safe," she said. "They put their bodies on the line every day and it's only fair they're fairly rewarded for their work with a decent pay rise."

GMB national officer Eamon O'Hearn said earlier this week that its members had “had enough and they're finding their voice and their strength and they're being supported with overwhelming numbers of letters and messages from across the world”. 

O’Hearn called the strikes “historic”, as G4S security guards have never taken strike action over pay before. The GMB national officer has also called the use of agency staff "highly contentious" and called on DWP to work with G4S and the unions to resolve the dispute.

A DWP spokesperson told CSW: “DWP payments are not affected by the strike action by external G4S staff who work in our jobcentres and most sites remain open. If a site is closed, we are contacting customers if appointments need to be rescheduled or moved to alternative locations.” 

A G4S spokesperson said: "We are aware of the PCS's mandate to call for industrial action and are working on contingency plans with the DWP."

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