Security guards and cleaners at DESNZ and DSIT consider strike action over ‘chronic low pay’

Union says it will "keenly watch" how Labour's commitment to "biggest wave of insourcing in a generation" unfolds should it win the election
Photo: Ambrosiniv/Alamy

By Joseph Williams

04 Jul 2024

Cleaners and security guards at offices for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero and Department for Science, Innovation and Technology could go on strike for a fourth year running over “chronic low pay”.

PCS is balloting around 60 cleaners and security guards, who work in a former Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy building currently occupied by DSIT and DESNZ.

The staff, who are employed by ISS on outsourced contracts, are seeking a pay rise to £17 an hour. They also want improvements to working conditions to bring their contracts more in line with what civil servants working in the same department get. Currently the workers are paid the contractual minimum, according to PCS, and lower than the lowest paid staff directly-employed by the department.

PCS said the ISS have failed to make any serious pay offers. Last year, the ISS agreed to better pay for facility management staff after 34 days of strikes.

Labour has promised “the biggest wave of insourcing in a generation” as part of their New Deal for Working People. Despite this, the party’s manifesto makes little mention of public service reform.  

The union’s general secretary, Fran Heathcote, said PCS will “keenly watch” Labour’s commitment to ending the chaos of outsourcing in its first 100 days if the party wins today’s election, as polls predict.

PCS said the ISS staff are “typically exploited for profit by outsourcing companies, but they are adamant that their pay and conditions should reflect the hard work and value they contribute to the running of the civil service”.

It added that outsourced contracts “end up being more expensive for the taxpayer, showing the chaos and costliness of outsourcing”.

PCS’s general secretary, Fran Heathcote, said: “The refusal to respond to workers’ dignity and needs is the key to the profits made on taxpayer-funded contracts by outsourcing giants like ISS. I echo the confidence of our members who are yet again forced to strike for a fourth year running to try to address chronic low pay.”

The PCS ballot runs from 24 June to 8 July.

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