The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is expected to be forced to close for the duration of a 48 hour strike by security guards, cleaners and receptionists between 21-23 January organised by the trade union United Voices of the World (UVW).
The 48 hour strike will be the largest outsourced workers strike in the history of any government department and will be co-ordinated with a 24 hour strike on 22 January by outsourced workers at the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) represented by the PCS Union.
Both groups of workers returned a 100 per cent Yes vote for strike action in their ballots, and are making the same demands for the London Living Wage (LLW) of £10.55 per hour and parity of sick pay and holiday entitlement with civil servants.
The workers currently only receive £9 per hour, which is around £5,000 less per year than what they would earn on the LLW, as many of the security guards work between 60 and 72 hours week. They get one weeks less annual leave than civil servants and only Statutory Sick Pay which pays them nothing for the first three days of illness and then only £18.41 per day thereafter.
One of the MoJ security guards set to strike commented: “Some of us have worked here for 10 years, all we’re asking for is a wage that allows us to make ends meet and live with a little more dignity. Is that too much to ask from the Ministry of so-called Justice?”
Whilst another security guard added: “It should be common sense that everyone should get sick pay. If I am sick I don’t get paid, but I can’t afford not to work, so should I just work sick? Are we less human than civil servants?”
This will be the second outsourced workers strike at the MoJ in the last six months, the cleaners having already walked out for three days in August demanding the living wage.
That strike won the cleaners a 12 per cent pay rise bringing them up to the £9 rate paid to security guards but still significantly below the LLW.
Nearly 3,000 workers, some employed directly by the MoJ, are also paid under the LLW, as well as thousands more government employees across the country, all of whom might be set for a pay rise if this strike achieves its aim.
Shadow Justice Minister, Richard Burgon, supports these strikes and will be attending the picket lines.