Contract staff in the government’s business department have voted to strike over pay and conditions – on the same day ministers promoted a new drive to protect workers’ rights.
Cleaners, security guards and caterers in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) voted for action as part of a campaign for the London Living Wage, currently £10.55 an hour.
The ballot took place on Monday, hours after Business Secretary Greg Clark heralded a raft of new legislation designed to give workers more rights as the “biggest for a generation”.
Clark’s department has outsourced backroom functions to French giant Engie and US firm Aramark through a series of multi-million pound contracts.
The Public and Commercial Services Union, which organised the ballot, said 27 staff approved strike action in Monday’s vote.
The union described the vote as an “overwhelming endorsement for strike action”.
General secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The contractors at BEIS have treated them disgracefully and all our members ask is to be on the same terms and conditions as their BEIS colleagues.
“Ministers at the department need to step in and bring these services back in house as a matter of urgency.”
BEIS, Engie and Aramark have been approached for comment.