Unions plan joint strike action at BEIS and MoJ over support staff pay

PCS branch issues notice of industrial action ballot to BEIS after talks with senior figures break down


Photo: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

By Richard Johnstone

26 Nov 2018

Trade union officials representing support staff working at both the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Ministry of Justice have today indicated they plan to take joint strike action in their campaign to secure a living wage.

The PCS union branch at BEIS today said that it would begin industrial action proceedings due to what it said was the failure of outsourcing companies Engie and Aramark to pay cleaning and other support staff the London living wage and to provide sick pay and equal holiday terms.

The branch said that it had been in talks with BEIS for two years to improve pay and conditions for support staff at the department’s 1 Victoria Street headquarters, as well as various offices around the country and partner organisations.


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However, those discussions broke down after businesses secretary Greg Clark said he was asking officials to conduct a review of pay and conditions, instead of announcing decisive action, according to the PCS branch. 

As a result, the union branch said it planned to ballot the staff employed by Engie and Aramark, starting early next week. The branch indicated that it would coordinate action with the United Voices of the World Union (UVW), which represents support staff including security, receptionists, post room and porter staff and cleaners at the Ministry of Justice. MoJ cleaning staff took strike action in August to improve pay and conditions and the UVW are currently balloting security guards for further action, creating what PCS the statement was a plan to undertake joint strike action against the two Whitehall departments.

Staff are clear that Clark’s review is not good enough given what they call the “department’s indifference and intransigence”, according to the branch, which highlighted that as BEIS has around a quarter of the government’s Brexit workload there is an increasing work and reliance on support services to keep the department running.

A government spokesperson said: “The support staff at BEIS and Ministry of Justice are valued colleagues. The independently advised National Living Wage has helped to deliver the fastest wage growth for the lowest paid in 20 years and the most recent rise in April meant full time workers will earn an extra £600 a year.
 
“We strictly enforce the National Living Wage in all our contracts.”

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