Cleaners at HMRC offices on Merseyside have voted unanimously in favour of industrial action as part of their fight for a living wage, improved terms and conditions and job security. They will initially take two days of strike action on 15 and 16 July, with continuous action short of strike beginning the following day.
Low pay and poor conditions
PCS members working for ISS suffer from low pay and poor conditions. They are currently paid just the minimum wage of £8.21 per hour, with only statutory sick pay of £94.25 per week and the legal minimum of 28 days’ annual leave. Their job security remains in doubt because of HMRC office closures, and the company’s unilateral changes to the ‘pay interval’ (how regularly members are paid) only imposed further hardship.
The union is therefore demanding:
- A minimum wage of £10 per hour (£11.55 per hour in London)
- A pay differential of £2.00 per hour for supervisors
- Equivalent terms and conditions to those of staff in HMRC, including 30 days per annum paid holiday (plus public holidays) and full occupational sick pay
- Reversal of the company’s unilateral changes to the pay interval for cleaning staff
- All staff currently engaged working in HMRC sites to be given the opportunity to continue their employment with ISS, with no detriment to their terms and conditions and within reasonable daily travel of their home, should their HMRC site close.
PCS wrote to ISS senior management to make clear our demands, and asked for a formal and positive response. No such response was received. As such we balloted members between 17 June and 1 July.
19 of the 25 members balloted responded, a turnout of 76%. Every single one voted in favour of strike action and in favour of industrial action short of a strike.
How you can support the action
Members taking action will be supported by the union’s Fighting Fund. Local reps are also raising money to top up the amount paid to members in order to ensure that they receive their full wages for the days they take action, reducing ISS’s capacity to simply wait out the dispute.
You can donate to the fundraiser here.
Donations from individuals, branches and other organisations such as trades councils are all welcomed.
Organising cleaners across the estate
Whilst the cleaners on Merseyside are prepared to take action by themselves, ISS employs cleaners across the HMRC estate. Clearly, the more of these workers willing to go into dispute as part of this campaign the stronger the union’s hand in negotiations.
All PCS branches are encouraged to make efforts to recruit and organise their cleaners. Where you feel that you would benefit from support in doing so, then please get in touch with the campaign. We will be more than happy to support activists willing to undertake this work in any way we can.