Aramark employees at the government's Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have begun three days of protest, accusing employers of paying ‘poverty wages'.
The strike began this morning and was led by union PCS. Workers are demanding a boycott to Aramark offerings at the department and calling for pay to be raised in line with London Living Wage to £10.55 per hour. The protest gained support from TUC chair Frances O'Grady (pictured, second from right), who joined the picket line on Victoria Street, Westminster.
The union has accused the outsourcing companies of paying "poverty wages" and denying employees the same rights of civil servants in the same department.
However, a spokesperson for BEIS defended the rate of pay, saying it had recently agreed with Aramark and outsourcing firm ISS to map salaries to the median wage earned by cleaning, catering, mail room and security staff across the country.
They added that for employees based in London this would be weighed against the London average. The change, which was introduced on 1 March, would also include rises associated with the increase in minimum wage to £8.21 per hour, which came into force this month.
A BEIS spokesperson said: "All our staff are valued members of the BEIS team and all deserve a fair wage, whether directly employed or working for our contractors.
"Following a review of contractor pay by the department, we have agreed with our contractors that they will align the pay of cleaning, catering, mail room and security staff to the median rates for those occupations as identified in the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings."
The Caterer has reached out to Aramark for comment.