Socialist Worker

Civil service workers plan solidarity visit during all-out strike

by Nick Clark
Issue No. 2666

A group of cleaners and caterers are into the fourth week of an indefinite strike in London

A group of cleaners and caterers are into the fourth week of an indefinite strike in London (Pic: PCS)


Striking cleaners and caterers at government offices in London and Liverpool are set to link up their fights over low pay and outsourcing at a rally next week.

Workers at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis) on indefinite strike were planning a trip to Liverpool on Tuesday of next week.

They’re going to support the cleaners at HMRC tax offices there who were due to walk out next week from Monday until Wednesday

Strikers from both cities plan to march and rally together in Liverpool city centre.

It’s the latest step in a growing fight across the civil service, waged by members of the PCS union.

HMRC cleaners are demanding bosses at private company ISS pay them £10 an hour, while those at Beis want £10.55 from ISS and Aramark. Both sets of workers ultimately want to be brought back in house.

Beis striker Joshua told Socialist Worker, “We are going to support them and share our experience—to show them they are not alone and we are not alone.

“We are in it together. We want to tell them our struggles are their struggles—and that they should stand firm and fight until they win as we are doing.”

The workers at Beis entered the fourth week of their strike on Monday of this week. Strikers say bosses from ISS and Aramark still haven’t come to the table. But that won’t stop them fighting.

Strong

“We’ll continue fighting—we’re strong,” striker Rita told Socialist Worker.

Joshua said bosses “don’t want to give us the wages, terms and conditions that the other workers employed by Beis have. They are making a lot of profit.”

“Some people have been working here for two decades three decades,” he said. “But when a new employer takes over, we start afresh. So you don’t have a future. We’re still not even getting the London Living Wage and our long service doesn’t matter.”

But he explained that strikers are standing firm, and are using the time to train as union reps.

“We’re learning about employment law and how you can represent people. It’s very important because when people weren’t doing anything they became restless, but when there are activities like that they keep us together.

“And we’ll know our rights. If you know your rights you are more confident in the workplace and no one can bully you as they were doing before. Now people have learned their rights, and how the fight and defend them.”

He added, “We get nervous sometimes but we know we have the union backing us. We’re all happy. Until we get some positive feedback we’re not giving up.

“We’re all positive, encouraging each other.”

HMRC Cleaners Strike Rally, 12 noon, Tuesday 13 August, Liverpool Lime Street station

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