EPSU protests against dismissal and zero-hour contracts of SERCO workers

(29 August 2013 - update) Strike called off

GMB calls off strike after SERCO improved its offer

Following action of the workers, their union and support from EPSU, SERCO came back with an improved offer that the workers have accepted. Subsequently the strikes foreseen have been called off. Concerns remain as other workers employed by Serco to train army recruits do have zero-hour contracts. GMB continues its pressure and including on the UK ministry of Defense to change the conditions under which works is undertaken by its contractors.

(26 August 2013) The multinational company SERCO is threatening to dismiss workers and to put them on zero-hour contracts. The workers concerned and their union, EPSU affiliate GMB, have balloted for strike action which will take place end of August and early September. EPSU has sent a letter of concern to management pointing out that it is not offering securing and decent employment. EPSU asks the company to continue to employ the workers, honour the contract and to return to the bargaining table.

Background to the conflict
In January 2012 Serco won a contract, worth approximately £55m, with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) to deliver the Contemporary Operating Environment Force (COEFOR) training and support. Serco started work on this MOD contract in April 2012 and the contact is expected to run to 2014 and beyond. The GMB members were then transferred from G4S who employed them on this work for six years before that. This happened under the transfer of undertaking or acquired rights directive. When training new army recruits, these workers work at various Army Camps mainly in the UK, occasionally overseas in Germany, Cyprus and other locations and do not have fixed workplaces locations. Serco is going ahead to cut up to 100 jobs from 6th September 2013. This is in breach of a guarantee in relation to jobs and hours of work secured by GMB in December 2012 as part of the resolution to a previous dispute. See a report

Since Serco took over from G4S in April 2012 it has sought to cut hours, cut jobs, cut pay and sub-contract out the work to firms offering zero hours contracts. The primary aim has always been to maximise profit rather then focusing on quality of training. Previously Serco sought to make the whole workforce redundant and offer re-engagement on zero hours contracts.

SERCO is a multinational company that operates public services for profit. It is active in transport, health, local government, national administration, education, facility management, waste and much more. Many of the close to 100.000 employees work in the UK but the company claims activities in more than 30 countries.
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