Yesterday (18 June) EPSU sent its support to outsourced workers on the second day of their five-day strike over pay. The workers, employed by the Aramark and ISS multinationals, provide catering, cleaning, portering and security services at the head office of the government's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
The strike is over wages with the contractors refusing to increase pay in line with the London Living Wage, the widely recognised but unofficial threshold currently set at £10.55 an hour (EUR 11.55). PCS, the workers' union has attacked the BEIS for failing to require the contractors to pay the LLW.
The union has also criticised the Department for not intervening over the decision by ISS to take on security staff from an employment agency to try to break the strike. PCS industrial officer Denis Calnan said, “It is disgraceful that the Secretary of State for BEIS, whose department is in charge of employment matters, is allowing this illegal activity to take place at the department’s headquarters building.
There has been a lively presence on the picket line with music and dancing and even a food stall for the strikers, supporters and passers-by.
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This escalation of action by our members shows the strength and depth of feeling they have about how they are being treated.”
By the end of this week the workers would have taken 14 days of action, with walkouts having taken place in January, February and May.
The union has called for all contracted workers at government departments to be brought back in-house and to be paid a civil service wage. There has also been action by outsourced workers at the Foreign Office.
You can support the workers on social media using the hashtags: #LivingWage #PCSstrike and send messages of support to firstname.lastname@example.org