Socialist Worker

Uniting the fight at Ministry of Justice

by Nick Clark & Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2620

Pickets line for the Ministry of Justice cleaners strike last month

Pickets line for the Ministry of Justice cleaners strike last month (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Civil service workers in the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) resoundingly rejected a pay proposal tied to cuts to terms and conditions last week.

Members of the PCS union voted by 94 percent on a 74 percent turnout against the government’s plan. It would mean an 11 percent rise spread over five years—well below inflation—for increased working hours.

A member of the PCS’s MOJ group executive committee told Socialist Worker, “The ballot really accurately reflects what members have told us. They’re absolutely fed up with it. In meetings they’ve said the offer was an insult and demoralising.”

He added, “The money for any increase in salary was going to be found through an increase in hours, cuts to overtime, cuts to benefits and cuts to sick pay.

“PCS members are absolutely outraged. People kept saying, ‘Did the employer not think we were going to see through this?’”

The PCS has now returned to negotiations with MOJ bosses. But with the Tories refusing to give extra money to civil service pay—and more attacks on MOJ workers in the pipeline—it will take a fight to win a proper pay rise.

Gearing

A strike ballot in the MOJ can help build a pay fight across the civil service.

Meanwhile cleaners at the MOJ, members of the United Voices of the World (UVW) union, are gearing up for more strikes. Their demands include the London Living Wage of £10.20 an hour. As workers dusted off their strike placards, Tory justice minister David Gauke made it clear which side he’s on.

In response to a letter from shadow justice minister Richard Burgon, Gauke said the MOJ “requires all of its contractors to meet their statutory obligation to pay the minimum wage”.

He went on to say that “specific remuneration terms rightly remain within the remit of employers”. That means outsourcers OCS are given a free rein by the Tories.

A UVW spokesperson said, “Gauke is trying to shift responsibility to the contractor, but essentially it is his ministry that can decide the workers’ pay and conditions.”

A demonstration was planned this week by UVW and PCS members at the MOJ and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.


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