29 June 2022

Working together we can get the victories we deserve

Marcus Critchlow, chair of the PCS Met Police Commercial Sector Branch, explains how he and other branch reps have been working hard to defend and maintain members’ working conditions and personal terms.

I work for Equans as an outsourced security officer on the Met Police contract, Equans also has the contract for the reception and porters and post room staff on Met sites.

I am sure there are many others in the same position as us across the country who especially now face many new challenges and detrimental changes because of the economic situation.

I wanted to write this as a beacon of hope and to show that if you work together and don’t give in we can have success and get the victories we deserve.

Last year we, as reps were not allowed paid time off to perform our trade union duties by our employer but after many heated meetings and pressure from PCS, Equans agreed. This was a crucial victory as it allowed us to develop and grow as a branch and do the work that is needed.

After this we set up an organising committee, which has 13 members from across London.  We are also in the process of setting up a health and safety committee which we hope will be made up of members, union reps, representatives from Equans and the MET Police.

Defeating attacks on terms and conditions

At the beginning of the year our members working in security, reception and the post room at the Empress State Building in West London were told they were at risk of redundancy. We set up a WhatsApp group for the affected members, held regular online video conference meetings to help our affected members and represented them in consultations. There were also a couple of GMB members so we worked jointly with GMB and invited their members to be part of the meetings.

When we got to the redeployment stage, Equans told them they would have to sign new contracts if they wanted to be redeployed. They were already stressed about possibly losing their jobs and many of them had been in for 15 or more years. Now they were being told they would not only have to work at another location and possibly reduce their hours or move from a Monday to Friday role to shift work but would also lose a lot of their beneficial terms, which included a reduction from 6 months full company sick pay to 10 days a year.

PCS reacted swiftly, writing to Equans immediately and the next meeting with the senior management was almost completely taken up with discussions around the subject.

After a few weeks of waiting, as those further up the food chain made their decision, we got the news that the company would not change the affected members’ terms and would only make amendments regarding changes in hours and workplace.

This was a great victory for us and our members and it was a lovely moment when we broke the news to them.

The times we live in right now are so precarious, the need for the union is stronger than ever. Over the last few years we have seen the Conservative government bring in more and more anti-union legislation but we will never stop, never give up, I believe the trade union is a fundamental part of society and humanity. I am proud of what we do and to stand up, together with my fellow colleagues.

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