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09.07.2024 / Press releases / /

Strike action averted as Government cleaners and caterers reach a deal

  • Tomorrow’s strike action at the Department for Education (DfE) has been postponed
  • All facilities staff at DfE have won backdated pay of up to £2,500 each following an agreement reached with facilities multinational, ISS UK limited (ISS).
  • The agreement won by members of the United Voice of the World (UVW) union also includes other improvements to their working conditions and guarantees of job security.
  • ISS agreed to UVW demands after caterers joined the cleaners in a second round of strike action two weeks ago, and post room workers were poised to do the same.

Facilities staff – cleaners, caterers,  receptionists and post room staff – at the Department for Education have won up to £2,500 each in a deal that has seen strike action on Wednesday 10 July averted and facilities multinational ISS enter into negotiations with the workers’ union of choice, United Voices of the World.

ISS made these concessions two days before strike action planned by UVW members and two weeks after DfE caterers and post room staff joined the cleaners on their second round of strike action at the end of June. The first round of strike action took place, as part of a mass strike by UVW members, in the summer of 2023. 

ISS has agreed to award back pay to 1 November 2023 and has committed to enter into negotiations with UVW over terms and conditions of all facilities staff including improvements to sick pay and annual leave,  and, after rumours of redundancy, confirmation will also  be sent to all current employees at Sanctuary buildings that none are at risk of redundancy.

Gloria Mancera, cleaner and UVW member said:

“I’m very pleased that our bosses have finally agreed to backdate our pay and to sit down with our union to discuss better terms for sick pay, annual leave, and all the other issues we have been fighting for over the last year. We have had to strike twice, and we were prepared to walk out for the third time on Wednesday, but it’s great news that we have finally averted the strike. This is thanks to all of us working together with our union, in unity, showing our resolve and determination as a group to achieve equality for all workers. Why is one worker entitled to dignified pay while another has to suffer on poverty wages? Why should one be able to stay home if ill while another has to choose between sick leave or food on the table? It’s simply unfair. We just hope we will reach a good agreement for all parties involved before the end of the summer.”

April Keayes, catering assistant manager and UVW member said:

“I am incredibly grateful for UVW’s assistance and the engagement of ISS management, which helped us prevent our planned industrial action. With UVW’s support, we are feeling hopeful about the upcoming negotiations and believe we can achieve our goals. ISS has addressed many issues we presented, and we are optimistic that our aspirations for basic sick pay and increased annual leave might become a reality. Our teams’ passion remains unwavering, and we are prepared to advocate strongly for our needs if negotiations do not yield the desired results. We express our heartfelt gratitude to our colleagues in the cleaning team and everyone who contributed to our cause. UVW gave us a voice and becoming a member of this union has changed our lives.”

Petros Elia, UVW General Secretary said 

Facilities workers are often the worst treated in any building, particularly government buildings. And in DfE they are changing that with UVW backing them every step of the way. We are pleased that ISS under pressure from the GPA have started to make concessions and agree to meaningful negotiations and we hope that strike action can be averted permanently. However, if the demands are not met then our members will be straight out on the picket line again and will not be returning to work until they win. This fight will hopefully inspire all facilities workers in Government and beyond to stand up and fight back and we’re putting this new Government on notice that it’s time to put an end to the two tier workforce in Whitehall.”

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For further information contact the UVW comms team

Isabel: 07706 987443
Cristina: 07548 759340 

Jim: 07749 765264

E-mail: comms@uvwunion.org.uk 

About UVW

United Voices of the World is an anti-racist, member-led, direct action, campaigning trade union and we exist to support and empower the most vulnerable groups of precarious, low-paid and predominantly BAME and migrant workers in the UK. We fight the bosses through direct action on the streets and through the courts and demand that all members receive at least the London Living Wage, full pay, sick pay, dignity, equality and respect.

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