Just Ask Estates Services contract cleaners at London’s royal parks have announced they will be taking part in strike action on 30 July over pay and pension conditions.
According to civil service union PCS that represents the staff, 32 members were balloted, resulting in a 100% yes vote on an 81% turnout. Campaigning alongside the United Voices of the World union, PCS is demanding parity for the workers employed by Just Ask Estates Services with directly employed staff, as well as sick pay and a better pension scheme.
The contractor, which provides toilet-cleaning services across London’s 5,000 acres of royal parks, has yet to come up with a solution with the unions. With visitor numbers likely to increase following the lifting of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) restrictions today (19 July), any industrial action could impact on accessibility to toilets for tourists.
The cleaner employees will also be striking to demand the reinstatement of a member of staff who was sacked after she was delayed on her return from Ghana, despite the fact that she informed her employer that this was a result of Coronavirus-related travel restrictions.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka commented that the treatment of staff who do an “important” job keeping key facilities functioning at the royal parks is a “disgrace”, and that Just Ask Estates needs to recognise the “palpable anger” of members and negotiate to achieve a just settlement.
He explained that strike action is always a last resort but the union will back members every step of the way.
A Just Ask Estates Services spokesperson added: “Just Ask took on this contract two months ago, at which point we inherited a long-running dispute about employment terms, and we are fully committed to resolving this situation swiftly and amicably. We responded to the PCS union’s claims in full on 3 June and look forward to working with all stakeholders to find a speedy resolution.”