PCS to ballot BEIS members for strike action over Covid safety concerns

16 Nov 2020

Up to 100 contracted out support staff at BEIS could walk out in December during pivotal EU exit negotiations over a lack of Covid safety, PCS has warned.

We are balloting facilities management members who work in security cleaning, porterage and postal services at 1 Victoria street of the Brexit department, for strike action in December because contractor ISS is refusing to wind down support services sufficiently to enable members to shield safely. 

The overwhelming majority of support staff are from the BAME community which has been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 global pandemic. 

Most 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 shield safely at home. 

PCS has strongly argued that by default civil servants should be working from home during the pandemic. 

The ballot will open on 24 November and close on December 8. 

PCS 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. 

"Most 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. 

"We have already seen Alok Sharma court controversy with his trip abroad after one of his team contracted Covid. 

"It is understandable that our contracted-out members have no faith in the minister or this government's handling of the corona pandemic." 

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