29 March 2022

My job matters

Continuing our series focussing on the PCS key workers who have kept our workplaces safe during the pandemic, we meet Antonietta Marro, a playground attendant at the Royal Parks.

Tell us about your job?
I have worked at Diana’s Memorial Playground at Kensington Gardens for 12 years. There are around 60 of us outsourced to provide playground and cleaning services across the Royal Parks.

The best thing about my job is working with the children. I get regulars come in everyday who you build a bond with. It’s so rewarding to see them develop from babies to young adolescents. When they remember me at Christmas with a card, I know I have done a good job.  

Tell us about your PCS activity?
I have always been an active union member. After my colleagues and I won trade union recognition last year they elected me to become one of three Royal Parks workplace reps.

Despite the law requiring employers to consult staff when they are facing a TUPE transfer, we were not consulted when transferred from Vinci to Just Ask Estates in May 2021. Many colleagues had their hours cut and were facing the threat of redundancy. This all happened during the pandemic and we had to keep the parks open for the public. Despite meeting many park users our employer did not pay us our full wages if we got sick with Covid-19. We decided collectively to campaign on these issues, including taking significant strike action.

In November, we achieved victory. Most of us got our hours back including the backdated pay, the job cuts were put on hold, and we won PCS trade union recognition. The icing on the cake was winning full sick pay.  

I have no doubt we won due to high union membership across the parks and our collective determination. We stuck to our decision to see it through to the end, until we got what we deserved. It reversed the power our employer had over us as individuals.   

What advice would you give other PCS members about building union power in their workplace?
If you all stick together and stay strong you can win anything you put your mind to. If you have any questions about how to start organising your workplace contact me via outsourcedworkers@pcs.org.uk. I’d be happy to have a chat on the phone.