Outsourced workers employed as cleaners and attendants in London's Royal Parks are striking for pay parity and against redundancies, reports Jamal Elaheebocus
Cleaners and attendants working in the Royal Parks in London held a determined rally this morning outside Royal Parks HQ in Hyde Park. The workers, who are members of PCS and UVW unions, have begun strike action from today until 30 August following a day-long strike on 30 July.
Several speakers, including members of Unite, Unison and staff from the TUC offered solidarity to the striking workers and praised the strength and bravery of the strike. A member of the PCS NEC also reaffirmed the support of the union.
The workers are on strike to demand that no jobs are lost, an end to pay disparity with inhouse workers and better sick pay. They have been outsourced to a company called Just Ask, which works on a contract let by the Royal Parks, alongside many other services in the parks that have also been outsourced to other private companies.
This has created a two-tier workforce; cleaners and attendants working for Just Ask are paid far less than those working for Royal Parks and receive lower sick pay, maternity pay, holiday pay and pension entitlement. Workers are paid nothing for the first few days when they go off sick and then are only paid the legal minimum following that, in contrast to the inhouse workers who receive full pay from day one of sickness.
What makes this situation even more outrageous is that inhouse workers are 90% white while the outsourced workers are 90% black and ethnic minority.
To add insult to injury, Just Ask are looking to make a third of the workers redundant, meaning that those who keep their jobs have to cover the extra work by moving from park to park.
The strike will continue for the next two weeks, including over the bank holiday weekend, meaning that the parks will suffer staff shortages over the busiest period of the year. By doing this, the workers are sending a clear message to both Just Ask and Royal Parks that they will not accept poor pay and conditions.
A win for the workers in Royal Parks could mean that many other public bodies have to take into account the discriminatory effects of double standards between inhouse and outsourced workers. It could also give other outsourced workers the confidence to take industrial action and fight back against outsourcing and low pay.
Trade unionists and activists can offer support in several ways:
1Donate to the strike fund here
2Send a message of support to ou[email protected]
3Lobby your local MP to support the strike
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