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To: Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
BEIS: End poverty wages and the contracting out of government support services
We call upon you, as the Secretary of State for BEIS, to pay all your support staff a proper liveable wage (as set by the Living Wage Foundation) and ensure that their terms and conditions are comparable to those of civil servants, with a view to bringing them back in house.
Why is this important?
In your response to the Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices, ‘Good Work’, you rightly stated that it is important that everyone “has the ability to … earn a living to support them and their family”. We therefore hope that you will agree with us that it is outrageous that staff within your Department who keep it safe every day, clean the office, deliver the post and serve food are on poverty wages. For example, it is neither safe nor acceptable that to feed their families, security staff must work a minimum of 60 hours a week. This is at the same time as being on the front line of keeping a Whitehall Department safe.
You will know that the Prime Minister has promised the “greatest extension of rights and protections for employees by any Conservative government in history”. We hope that you agree with the PM that this should extend to those working for the government and in government buildings, including your own. As you will be aware, many Departments already pay a proper liveable wage, including HM Treasury, the Department for Work and Pensions, Department for International Trade and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In fact, this is something your staff (from the former Department of Energy and Climate Change) fought for, won, and are rightly proud of. In addition, the Houses of Parliament, where you have a Parliamentary office, is also a Living Wage Foundation employer and so those staff that clean one of your offices are paid a liveable wage, while those that help run your Department are not. I am sure you agree this cannot be right or just.
Back in 2016 the Trade Unions sought to engage positively with your Permanent Secretary, Alex Chisholm. Despite initial early indications of a positive approach, including confirmation that increases in pay were both affordable and within the Department’s gift, the Unions have at best been met with intransigence and indifference since then.
We hope that given your commitment in the Industrial Strategy to be personally responsible for “improving the quality of work”, you will agree with us that when it comes to people’s livelihoods and ability to look after their families this attitude is not acceptable.
We, the undersigned, are now calling on you to intervene and commit to paying at least the London Living Wage to all your support staff, and to holding proper discussions with the Trade Unions on their terms and conditions.