Your industry news - first Number 1 for Recruitment
We strongly recommend viewing Cleanzine full size in your web browser. Click our masthead above to visit our website version.
State Opening of Parliament and Trooping of the Colour may be marred by cleaners' strike
Just prior to the State Opening of Parliament and the Trooping of the Colour at St James's Park, is not the best time for the people responsible for cleaning those locations to be on strike - but that is what we may be facing unless an ongoing dispute can be quickly resolved.
Further to a recent news story on the subject, GMB members employed by OCS in Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, St James's Park, Green Park, Grosvenor Square and Brompton Cemetery in London are being balloted for strike action over OCS serving notice to move from weekly to monthly pay without - according to the Union - agreement with staff and on a number of other issues.
Ballot papers were sent out on 1st May and the closing date is 15th May 2015. Talks are scheduled at the conciliatory body ACAS for Tuesday 12th May 2015.
TUPE legislation covers staff which should ensure that terms and conditions are protected after OCS won a new seven year contact last Summer covering all landscape maintenance operations.
Landscape maintenance services include all horticulture work (excluding tree work); litter picking; refuse collection; road/path sweeping; cleansing; gritting; playground inspection; and grave digging at Brompton Cemetery. Large numbers of these members employed as parks gardeners have been in post for many years, some for more than 40 years.
"OCS has served notice on staff to impose the change from weekly pay in the case of St James's Park and the pay date in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens," says Gary Carter, GMB regional officer. "The changes will have the same effect.
"OCS will withhold two week's pay that our members have already earned, which they will get back when they leave. OCS will offer the two weeks as a loan that they will deduct over 12 months, putting the employees into debt and wiping out any pay award. OCS will save thousands to the detriment of the employees who will be out of pocket.
"That is the reason members will vote on strike action. The state opening of Parliament is coming up and so too is Trooping the Colour at St James's Park. Gardeners from St James's Park also maintain the Downing St gardens. It is also the main bedding season. Strike action will have a major impact on these events."
GMB is also locking horns with OCS over the Estate Housing Cleaning contract in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea in a dispute about pay and moving the cleaners to monthly pay without agreement.
Workers on £7.40 per hour are seeking a Living Wage of £9.15 per hour and reject proposals on monthly pay that will leave them £8.57 per week worse off for next 12 months, says GMB.
GMB is balloting 71 members employed as cleaners by OCS. The ballot papers have been distributed and the closing date is 15th May 2015.
OCS holds the contract to provide cleaning services by Kensington & Chelsea Tenants' Management Organisation (TMO) and the cleaners provide services for the residents on housing estates in the north and south of the borough. The contract is in its final year. The cleaners want to see payment of a London Living Wage to employees incorporated into the contract.
Gary Carter says: "OCS estate cleaners are campaigning for a London living wage of £9.15 per hour. They currently earn £7.40 per hour. They have been offered 1% pay rise funded by the TMO. This compares with the National Minimum Wage increasing by 3% and the London Living Wage increasing by 4%.
"OCS claims it has no money to fund an additional increase. Recently OCS announced in conjunction with Living Wage Foundation that it supported a living wage. This poor treatment of employees on Kensington & Chelsea flies in the public face of that endorsement.
"The wages of these workers are going backwards. They were making progress towards a living wage but this has gone into reverse. In 2010, the cleaners' wages were £1.02 per hour lower than a Living Wage and they are now £1.75 per hour lower.
"OCS will make substantial savings by moving employees from fortnightly to monthly pay and keeping back two weeks' pay workers will have already earned. OCS says it will loan workers two weeks' pay of approximately £600.00. The loan will be paid back over 12 months at a rate of £11.53 per week. The pay rise offered is worth £2.96 per week. This means workers would be £8.57 worse off each week for the next 12 months. That is not acceptable."
7th May 2015