STRIKING PCS members at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) were joined on the picket line early yesterday morning by their general secretary, Mark Serwotka.
The strikers work for contractors Engie and Aramark and are demanding the London Living Wage of £10.55p an hour. The BEIS is a government department responsible for promoting the rights of workers.
In March they ‘named and shamed’ nearly 180 employers for underpaying more than 9,000 minimum wage workers by £1.1 million. At the time, Tory Business Minister Andrew Griffiths said: ‘There are no excuses for short-changing workers.’ Now staff working at his own office are on strike over poverty pay!
Serwotka told News Line: ‘This is an important strike for the London Living Wage, proper sick pay and holiday pay, and these workers deserve to be employed as civil servants. ‘The are the front face of this organisation and it is ironic that in Parliament today the government is going to say how they will guarantee the rights of workers after Brexit. ‘Its disgraceful that Whitehall staff are having to take strike action to get proper workplace rights.’
PCS branch secretary at the BEIS, Kate Leslie, said: ‘There has been tremendous support for the strike, we have doubled our membership in the last three months. ‘Aramark employ the catering staff and Engie the porters and security. ‘It’s shameful the department that is promoting workplace rights is treating its workers like this.
‘This fight is not only for the London Living Wage but against outsourcing, as for the last 18 years these workers have been shafted between different contractors.’ Tony, one of the Engie strikers, said: ‘I have worked here for 15 years and have had £1.10p increase in that time. Today we are taking action and we are going to do it until we get the London Living Wage.’
Catering striker Merlene Chambers said: ‘I’ve been here 11 years and I am only on the minimum wage of £7.83. If I have to go to the doctor I don’t get paid.’ Pickets were also out at the Ministry of Justice where security guards, cleaners and receptionists, were also striking for the London Living Wage.
Meanwhile, Beefeaters and other staff working for Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) were picketing outside the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace in a struggle over pensions.