Strong first day of action on Merseyside

Today (Monday 25 July) saw the start of a two day strike by cleaning staff in Bootle and Liverpool over cuts to their hours to claw back a rise in the minimum wage.

Every single PCS member working for ISS at the affected HMRC sites took part in the action, with only a tiny minority of non-members in Liverpool not taking part.

The strike was so strong that ISS had to deploy its senior managers along with workers bussed in from Manchester in order to clean the offices. That this group outnumbered the regular cleaners in most of the buildings shows how much work staff have upon them as a result of several rounds of cuts.

Support from the public and from civil servants in HMRC was strong, with many stopping to support the picket line and hundreds of pounds donated to the cleaners’ strike fund both on picket lines and online.

PCS’s Group Executive Committee, which runs the union in HMRC, are meeting in Liverpool on the same days as the strike.

After their meeting finished on Monday, they joined the picket line at Regian and Graeme House in Derby Square. Ahead of the start of tomorrow’s meeting, they will be joining the picket line at the Triad in Bootle.

PCS HMRC group secretary Martin Kelsey said: “Despite making hundreds of millions of pounds in profit, ISS is holding back from the lowest paid workers in their organisation even the most meagre benefits arising from the government’s new minimum rates of pay.

“As a department, HMRC should not be in business – directly or indirectly – with companies hell-bent on making members already living on poverty wages, into victims of their corporate greed.”

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “For ISS to treat cleaners this way is an absolute disgrace and for HMRC not to step in is a scandal, and we are not going to let them get away with it.

“While still not even a proper living wage, this profitable multinational company appears to think it is immune from paying it and can cut people’s hours and income with impunity.”

Peter Dowd, MP for Bootle and Labour’s Shadow Treasury Minister, said: “This action is a major embarrassment for a Tory Government that talks a lot about rolling out the National Living Wage while not even ensuring their own staff earn enough to live on.

“HMRC is responsible for ensuring that private sector employers are paying the right rate, so it’s ironic that the Tories won’t even give them enough resources to pay their own cleaners properly.

“Philip Hammond should meet with ISS and PCS in order to ensure that increases in the minimum wage are not paid for out of the pockets of their own staff, including contractors.”

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