There was strong support from the public, trade unionists and civil servants at the start of a 3-day strike by PCS members who are contracted catering staff working at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in a dispute over pay.
The staff who work for contractor Aramark are angry at their demands for the London Living Wage (LLW) of £10.55 an hour being repeatedly ignored.
PCS has strongly argued that the contractors should pay the LLW and that BEIS should be putting pressure on the contractors to do so. We believe the scandal of low pay and poor conditions is caused by outsourcing and we are campaigning to bring these services back in-house.
There was a well-attended, lively picket outside the BEIS building at 1 Victoria Street, Westminster, where striking workers were joined by local PCS branches in Whitehall, representatives of the PCS National Black Members’ Committee and PCS NEC members. There was heartfelt support from civil service BEIS members, some boycotting the canteen and going out for coffee, as well as genuine understanding and sympathy from the public. The pickets even had an unexpected visit from TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady, who arrived for a meeting but refused to cross the picket line and instead joined the strikers.