News Walthamstow

G4S security staff at Walthamstow Jobcentre strike for better pay

Minimum wage security staff noisily picketed the Jobcentre on Westbury Road this morning while calling for a decent pay rise, reports Marco Marcelline

The G4S security team at the Jobcentre are calling for a wage they “can live on”

G4S security staff working at Walthamstow’s Jobcentre Plus on Westbury Road who have gone on strike this week are demanding that they are paid a “living wage” by the multinational security firm. 

The walkout, which began on Monday (17th June) and will go on until Friday (21st June), is being mirrored at Jobcentres across the country.

This morning (18th June), all eight security staff at the Walthamstow Jobcentre demonstrated outside the entrance, where they called on their employers to give them a decent pay rise.

Chris, a G4S worker who did not want to give his last name, told the Echo that his minimum wage salary meant it was a regular struggle to make ends meet. “I don’t have enough money to break through, I have to go into my overdraft sometimes. My rent has gone up, food, bills, electricity and gas are up. Everything is up apart from my wages.”

He added: “[G4S] has got money to pay its shareholders but not us.”

The multinational security firm made a total of £2.69million in profits in 2022, 68.4% more than its overall profits in 2021. 

G4S security staff outside the Westbury Road Jobcentre today.

Marisa Donald, a customer care officer for G4S, said that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), had hired “contracted” cheap security staff to work at the site while they were striking.

The move was unsafe, she said: “They are putting staff at risk. [The replacement security] struggled to open the door to come in – they are not trained to work on the site,” she said.

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The striking security staff, who described their protest as “peaceful”, alleged that the DWP called the police on them this morning, as around “seven” cops attended and briefly monitored the situation.

Eamon O’Hearn, GMB national officer said: “Job Centre security guards are punched, attacked and savaged in the neck by dogs – just for carrying out their duties.

“Yet 90 per cent of them struggle to get by on the minimum wage, while G4S trouser millions from the DWP.

“It’s abhorrent and these strikes will keep escalating unless G4S agrees to pay them a wage they can live on.”

In a statement on its website, the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), who also represent some of the striking employees, said: “We demand that G4S gets back round the table and starts to meaningfully address the chronic low pay experienced by a group of workers who put their bodies on the line every day to keep civil servants and the public safe.”

The union added: “G4S, which turns over billions of pounds every year, is a minimum wage employer and continues to refuse to pay a decent pay increase to a group of workers, many of whom face violence in the workplace every working day.”

A G4S spokesperson told the Echo that it was “keen to bring this dispute to an amicable conclusion” and called on the GMB union to “present our offer to our employees… who do a great job, sometimes in difficult circumstances.”

The spokesperson added: “The safety of our employees, service users, DWP employees and members of the public remains our highest priority.  We continue to engage with the GMB to ensure that all picketers are reminded that their actions should be conducted with dignity and respect.”

Since 2022, G4S has made 12 pay offers to the GMB Union. G4S says that GMB has only taken two of those pay offers for their members to ballot on.

G4S says its latest offer is a back-dated 6.5% pay uplift.

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