Security guards in Milton Keynes held a strike this week due to wages

    From June 17 to June 21, local security guards for company G4S held a strike outside Phoenix House in Milton Keynes due to their wages.

    From the beginning of this week, June 17, security guards working in Milton Keynes Jobcentres, along with those across the UK, were striking for five days due to wages. The 200 public and commercial service (PCS) members were joined by their comrades from GMB Union to take action.

    The PCS members work for security company G4S, on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) contracts in Jobcentres and back-of-house areas, providing essential security that assists in keeping DWP employees and claimants safe.

    G4S is a leading security and facility service company that provides security services and cutting-edge technology and aim to deliver tailored, integrated security solutions.

    The group of workers, whose roles are to keep civil servants and public safe, held a strike in hopes of garnering the attention of G4S regarding their wages.

    Andre Marques, the regional organiser at GMB Union, a general trade union in the UK with more than 560,000 members told MKFM, “G4S are a multibillion-pound company. They have been failing to maintain a differential for the security officers. In the past, they always maintained a differential of 30p above minimum wage but at the moment, they are failing to do that.”

    As of April this year, the UK government increased the minimum wage, including the national living wage to £11.44. The increase was implemented after the Bank of England forecasts suggested in October of 2023 that inflation would be above 3% when the 2024 national living wage was introduced. The rising cost of living prompted the independent commission to introduce the idea of a higher minimum wage.

    Andre says, “It is very humiliating, these people (the guards) are now on minimum wage, they have to maintain their lives to a standard, and it is just not enough. They are the first point of contact for members of public in the Jobcentres. Due to delays and backlogs, DWP Jobcentres across London are shut, so a lot of members of public travel from there, very upset, and vent it out on us. We receive complaints, attacks, and acts of violence.”

    A spokesperson from G4S commented, “Our dedicated security colleagues do a great job, sometimes in difficult circumstances. We urge the GMB to present our offer to our employees, which is both above minimum wage and inflation. We are keen to bring this dispute to an amicable conclusion.”

    G4S state that since 2022, they have made twelve pay offers to the GMB Union. Only two has been taken to their members to ballot on and that their latest offer is a backdated 6.5% uplift, and further increase on average of 9.3% in December 2023 to reinstate all differentials, including 23 pence above the minimum wage.

    The regional organiser adds, “The offer that has been refused by 98% of our members has been one that will put them just 23p above minimum wage. The offer was refused, and they (the union) voted ‘yes’ to walk out on a strike.”

    Allison, a G4S guard said, “As their team leader, I stand by my guys. They need to be recognised for the work they do. They are first aid trained, take abuse on a regular basis and suffer from injuries due to the nature of their job. I have been here 23 years, in that time eight of us have been injured at work. I have had to have cortisone injections in my neck from injury at work.” Allison added, “What this is all about is pay, the cleaning staff in the building we work in are on £1.50 more. They don’t face half the risks we do but are being paid much more.”

    According to G4S, fewer than 3 in 5 GMB members who were eligible voted for strike action. The company states that they are open for business as usual, despite the strike action.

    Andre concluded, “The discussion we are willing to have is one that will maintain the differentials that were there, previous to this dispute. Presently, the best offers the company put forward is not a pay reward, that is a pay cut.”

    A G4S spokesperson told MKFM, “The safety of our employees, service users, DWP employees and members of the public remains our highest priority.”

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