Dying for sick pay: campaign launch on Facebook Live

05 Jun 2020

PCS is launching a new, national campaign, ‘Dying for Sick Pay,’ on Monday 15 June 2020. The campaign is to defend and extend the right to full occupational sick pay, from day one, for outsourced workers across government

We will be launching our campaign with a Facebook Live Event  on 15 June at 7 pm, the 30th anniversary of International Justice Day for Cleaners and Security Guards. We will use the day to highlight this issue and set the stage for further actions.

We be joined by joined by former shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka, and PCS president Fran Heathcote.  We hope to also hear from those directly involved in the fight for better conditions for outsourced workers.

About the Campaign

During this outbreak, PCS cleaners, security guards and other facilities management staff have been providing the first line of defence against the virus in civil service buildings. Often putting themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe.

Rightly, the essential work that our members working in these roles do has been recognised by them being classed as key workers and even the Prime Minister thanked them during a recent Prime Minister’s Question Time.

But did you know they have no contractual right to full occupational sick pay from day-one like their civil service colleagues? Most receive just £19.17 per day statutory sick pay if they are unwell. 

During COVID-19, most civil service departments have implemented a policy that outsourced staff working in civil service buildings will receive full pay for any coronavirus related absence. This has allowed members to self-isolate, shield, rest and recuperate in line with government advice. This has shown money can be found to treat our members with dignity when sick.

Unfortunately, the government wants this arrangement gone as soon as the virus is. Occupational sick pay should be the right of every worker, not just for COVID.

Our facilities management members are predominately women and/or from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background.  They are usually outsourced to the private sector, on statutory minimum employment terms.  This means most are paid the national minimum wage of just £8.72 per hour and would usually only receive just over two hours pay if they need to take time off sick, under current SSP rates.  Also, outside of the pandemic, SSP is not paid for the first three days of sickness.  This means it is commonplace for members to continue to attend work when sick, as they cannot afford not to. Tragically, we have seen a number of preventable deaths across the sector as a result of the virus.

How you can help build for the campaign

1. If you are an outsourced worker

Let your workmates know what we are campaigning for, make sure they are aware of the Facebook live event and encourage them to attend, and ask them to join PCS in order to help build the campaign.

2. If you are a civil service member

Civil servants see and talk to their office security, cleaning, catering and facilities management staff every day. Strike up a conversation, let them know what is happening and encourage them to get involved on 15 June.

Outsourcing doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The issues that affect outsourced workers affect civil servants too. For example, if cleaners are unable to afford time off sick then they are likely to spread their illness around the office. Ask civil service members to support the Facebook live event and the campaign, in solidarity with their fellow workers.

3. Build a local contact group for outsourced members

Unlike civil servants, facilities management workers are generally not reachable via email, and the current circumstances make face to face contact harder. Consider other ways of keeping in contact, e.g. WhatsApp groups can help to keep in touch with and support the organising of these members.

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