ISS cleaners ballot for strike action

2016-03-18 13.01.28

PCS is balloting cleaners working for ISS in six HMRC buildings across Merseyside over possible industrial action.

The ballot is a response to their employer using the introduction of the government’s national living wage to make cuts in hours.

The national living wage came into force in April, giving over-25s on the minimum wage a 50p per hour increase from £6.70 to £7.20. In response, ISS is imposing cuts to hours. The amount cut for each cleaner has been determined to put their wages back at what they were before the new rate came in.

ISS brands itself as a Living Wage employer and its CEO Richard Sykes chairs the Living Wage Foundation’s Service Providers Board. However, the cleaners the company employs in HMRC buildings are overwhelmingly minimum wage workers.

Ironically, the cleaners are working in buildings occupied by HMRC; which is the government department responsible for ensuring that employers comply with national minimum wage legislation.

PCS has already raised what we believe to be the contractor’s refusal to comply with the legislation with HMRC, and an urgent meeting between PCS and the department’s financial and commercial arm is being arranged.

The reduced service that is being provided by the contractor as a direct result of the cuts in working hours is also a concern for those working in the buildings affected.

The union is arguing that ISS should not only not make cuts but should pay the Living Wage of £8.25 per hour as set by the Living Wage Foundation. It has also made demands for improvements in sick pay and holiday pay, currently set at the statutory minimum.

Martin Kelsey, PCS Revenue and Customs group secretary said: “It’s a disgrace that a multinational company, who last year made $120million profit, is refusing to meet its obligations to members who, as a direct result of the company’s actions, will see no benefit from the increase in the national minimum wage.”

Phil Dickens, PCS Bootle Taxes branch organiser, said: “PCS believes that, as a global company with a multi-million pound profit margin, ISS can more than afford to pay the increase. But it refuses to treat its lowest paid and hardest working staff with dignity.

“£7.20 per hour is not, despite the government’s branding, a living wage. The real Living Wage, as defined by the Living Wage Foundation, is currently set at £8.25 per hour. ISS claim to support that Living Wage, and yet are clawing back hours to pay for a measly 50p per hour increase.

“That is why the cleaners have now reached the point where they feel that balloting for industrial action is necessary. We have tried to talk to ISS, but their consultation has been a sham and they have refused to budge even one inch.

“Our members feel that if they accept these cuts, their employer will just keep taking more and more off them. That’s unacceptable and so they’re ready to make a stand.”

The ballot for strike action and action short of a strike involves PCS members working for ISS in Bootle Taxes branch and Liverpool City branch. Voting opens on Monday 13 June and is running until midday on Monday 27 June 2016. If members vote in favour, industrial action by the cleaning staff could start in early July.

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