Lively pickets at FCO

Submitted by AWL on 19 February, 2020 - 8:55 Author: John Moloney
FCO strikers

The strike at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is rock solid. The strike will continue through to the end of February over our demand for union recognition.

There have been lively pickets every day, and we’ve had good support from those from other unions. The strike has become a significant feature on the labour movement map of London. Strikers from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office also attended the “Trade Union Bloc” on the 14 February youth climate strike, which was organised by our branch at the Department of Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Interserve, the outsourced contractor which employs our members who are striking at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, remains intransigent, but we’re confident that the pressure of the ongoing strike will secure concessions.

In Merseyside, we’re now re-balloting outsourced cleaners in HMRC offices in Liverpool and Bootle, who have already struck for 16 days across four strikes to win a £10/hour wage, and annual leave and sick pay entitlements equal to those of directly-employed civil servants.

They’re employed by ISS, which has numerous contracts across the civil service, and we’re now spreading that dispute to another civil service workplace in Birmingham. ISS workers there have joined PCS very much to become part of the dispute and take action. The ballot runs from 17 February to 2 March.

The union will also be launching a ballot of directly-employed HMRC workers in the Bootle contact centre, for strikes to win improvements to working conditions, which creates the possibility of coordinated action between directly-employed and outsourced civil service workers in Liverpool.

The union’s national campaign on pay, pensions, and redundancies has now been formally launched. The task now is to energise the union around our demands on those issues. We want to form local committees, based on workplaces or groups of workplaces.

So, for example, where buildings or estates have multiple departments, which might have several PCS branches organising in them, we want a single campaign committee coordinating activity across that workplace, rather than three separate branches doing similar work in parallel.

• John Moloney is assistant general secretary of PCS, writing here in a personal capacity.

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