Socialist Worker

Whitehall workers walk out for living wage

Issue No. 2638

Unity on the picket line

Unity on the picket line (Pic: UVW)

Outsourced workers at the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) walked out on Tuesday.

They are demanding the London Living Wage of £10.55 an hour and parity of terms and conditions with workers employed directly by the departments.

The MoJ workers are United Voices of the World union members. At BEIS they are represented by the PCS union.

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell and shadow BEIS minister Rebecca Long-Bailey joined the picket lines.

“If I am sick I don’t get paid,” said striker Cristina. On top of not getting sick pay, workers employed by outsourcers also get less holiday entitlement.

MoJ security guard Purna said he works a 12-hour shift six days a week.

“£9 an hour is not enough,” he said. “The MoJ makes the law—how can they pay you like that?”

Build momentum for a new battle on pay

A campaign to build momentum for possible strikes in the civil service continued this week, as PCS union members met for consultations over pay.

Activists are gearing up for a possible ballot for industrial action this year, demanding an end to more than a decade of a pay freeze.

The union’s executive is proposing demands including a pay increase for all workers in the civil service of 8-10 percent and a minimum wage of £10 an hour nationally and £11.55 in London.

Meetings were set to take place on Wednesday in Gloucester, on Thursday in Dundee, Leicester, Manchester, Plymouth, Swansea and Wrexham and on Friday in Cardiff, Clapham and Edinburgh.

A ballot over pay last year saw more than 86 percent of those who took part vote in favour of strikes.

But the ballot did not meet the 50 percent turnout threshold demanded by the Tory anti-union laws.

Winning another ballot means union reps and activists have to focus on building momentum now. The consultations are a chance to organise, build and strengthen the union.

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