HMRC cleaners’ strike to escalate

PCS members employed by multinational ISS, working as cleaners in HMRC buildings on Merseyside, are to take 3 further days of strike action in September against imposed changes to their pay and conditions.

The workers held a 2-day strike in July against the changes imposed by the Danish multinational – whose net profit doubled to nearly £250million in 2015 – including cutting the hours of the cleaners, claiming that they cannot afford to meet the introduction of the government’s ‘national living wage’ (£7.20 an hour for over 25s).

The first 2 days of action taken by the cleaners in Bootle and Liverpool were a great success, with the employer only able to bring in a handful of cleaners in a vain effort to provide cover for the strikers. The loss of service caused by the stoppage led to an increased number of cleaning-related complaints to the facilities management helpline, adding to the pressure on the employer.

The latest action, from 5-7 September, marks an escalation of the action, following the successful two-day strike which took place in late July.

A particularly positive aspect has been the publicity, with The Guardian running major articles over several days; and the Liverpool Echo also running several articles on the dispute. Additionally, Liverpool MP Maria Eagle has written to prime minister Theresa May to call for her to intervene.

The crowdfunding organised by the PCS branches to help supplement the strike pay provided by PCS has also been a success.

Negotiations update

In the latest Guardian article, ISS was quoted as saying that it was willing to talk to our union. PCS approached the employer and a meeting was arranged with the ISS head of people and culture.

During the meeting we set out proposals which would offer a way forward in the dispute and ISS undertook to urgently consider the position. We made it clear to the employer that if a resolution could not be reached within a reasonable timescale then our members were prepared to take further strike action. Since that meeting, no substantive response has been received by the union and members are set to strike again.

PCS Revenue and Customs Group Secretary Martin Kelsey said: “Our members in ISS have shown tremendous support for the call to strike. Additionally, the publicity and wider support the strike has received, along with the impact that this dispute is having on the company’s reputation, will not be lost on ISS.

“Disappointingly, the lack of any positive response from the company has meant that our members have no choice other than to escalate the industrial action.”

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