Over 90 staff at the Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) department at 1 Victoria Street have voted to walk out due to concerns about Covid safety.
PCS which represents security, cleaning, porterage and postal service workers at the department accused contractor ISS which employs the staff at BEIS, of refusing to wind down support services sufficiently to enable members to stay safely at home.
95 members were balloted and 94.3% voted ‘yes’ to strike action on a 73.7% turnout.
The overwhelming majority of support staff are from the black and minority ethnic community, which has been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 global pandemic.
Many civil servants are working from home. However, BEIS which is a key Brexit department, is allowing some staff to come into the office, meaning support staff are forced to attend, unnecessarily endangering their health.
The union believes BEIS should put more restrictions on the numbers of people coming in to Victoria Street than at present and wind down the office operation further so support staff can be safe at home.
4 members of ISS have now tested positive and the local branch does not believe ISS followed proper procedures and allowed infected members to interact with colleagues at work for too long.
This follows positive cases among civil servants including staff in the office of business secretary Alok Sharma who was himself accused of violating his own Covid guidance last month.
PCS has always strongly argued that by default civil servants should be working from home during the pandemic.
Reacting to the ballot result, our general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "BEIS and ISS are continuing to put our members at unnecessary risk by not allowing support staff to stay at home.
“We hope this huge mandate for action will make both ISS and BEIS management take heed of our members’ serious concerns.
"Many civil servants are working well from home and there should be no need for our support staff to continue to put themselves in harm's way at BEIS.”