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Royal Parks Strike May 26th

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

GMB Members In Central London Royal Parks Strike On May 26 Over Detrimental Changes To Pay System And For London Living Wage

Downing St gardeners will protest outside workplace over OCS paying two week’s pay already earned as a “loan” that will be “recovered” over 12 months putting staff into debt and wiping out pay award says GMB.

GMB members employed by OCS to maintain Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, St James's Park, The Green Park, Grosvenor Square, Downing Street and Brompton Cemetery in London will take strike action on 26th May over OCS move from weekly to monthly pay in a manner detrimental to staff without agreement and on a number of other issues such as non-payment of a living wage.

This follows an overwhelming vote for action in a ballot that closed on15th May and after GMB served official notice for action on OCS. See notes to editors for previous GMB press release on the issue.

Landscape maintenance services include all horticulture work (excluding tree work); litter picking; refuse collection; road/path sweeping; cleansing; gritting; playground inspection; and grave digging at Brompton Cemetery. Large numbers of these members employed as parks gardeners have been in post for many years, some for more than 40 years.

The details for the picket lines are as follows:

From 6am to 6pm Tuesday 26th May

Hyde Park Store Yard,

Old Police Station,

Serpentine Road,

London.

 

Kensington Gardens,

West Carriage Drive,

Kensington Gardens,

London.

St James Park Store Yards,

Horseguards Parade,

London.

 

The will also be protest demonstration outside Downing Street from 10.30am.

Members will be available on the picket lines and on the Downing Street with flags and banners.

Gary Carter, GMB Regional Officer, said “TUPE legislation covers these staff. This should ensure that terms and conditions are protected after OCS won a new seven year contact last summer covering all landscape maintenance operations.

It is OCS trampling on their legal rights that has led these Royal Park staff to vote overwhelmingly to strike. This decision has not been taken lightly and will be the first strike in Royal Parks since 1978.

Employment relations have been good down the years, but since OCS took over the contract in August 2014 staff morale has rapidly deteriorated because of repeated attempts to worsen their pay and conditions.

Now OCS wants to hold back two week’s pay our members have already earned which will put these lower paid staff into debt. The management's action will cause unnecessary financial hardship.

The staff and gardeners are proud of the work they do which is admired by Londoners and by visitors from all around the world. They deserve to be treated with decency and respect and to earn a reasonable living. The Royal Parks should also not sit back and let this happen.

The strike on Tuesday 26th May will affect the bank holiday clean up and is one day before the State Opening of Parliament when the Queen will go past the bedding outside Buckingham Palace which will not get completed.

The protest outside Downing Street is to draw wider public attention to OCS offering to pay two week’s pay already earners as a “loan” that the company will “recover” over 12 months. This will put staff into debt and wipe out any pay award. The two week’s pay will only be paid when staff leave.

Members want OCS to pay staff a London Living Wage.”

End

Contact: Gary Carter 07738 958140 or 0208 202 8272 or GMB press office 07921 2898880 or 07974 251 823

Notes to editors

Previous GMB press releases:

Copy of GMB press release dated 5th May 2015

GMB Strike Ballot At Central London Royal Parks As OCS Move From Weekly To Monthly Pay Without Agreement And With Detriment To Workers

OCS will offer a loan for two week’s pay already earned that they will deduct over 12 months which will put workers who maintain Downing Street gardens into debt and wipe out any pay award says GMB

GMB members employed by OCS in Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, St James's Park, The Green Park, Grosvenor Square and Brompton Cemetery in London are to be balloted for strike action over OCS serving notice to move from weekly to monthly pay without any agreement with staff and on a number of other issues. See notes to editors for previous GMB press release on the issue.

Ballot papers were sent out on 1st May and the closing date is 15th May 2015. Talks are scheduled at ACAS for Tuesday 12th May 2015.

TUPE legislation covers staff which should ensure that terms and conditions are protected after OCS won a new seven year contact last summer covering all landscape maintenance operations.

Landscape maintenance services include all horticulture work (excluding tree work); litter picking; refuse collection; road/path sweeping; cleansing; gritting; playground inspection; and grave digging at Brompton Cemetery. Large numbers of these members employed as parks gardeners have been in post for many years, some for more than 40 years.

Gary Carter, GMB Regional Officer, said “OCS has served notice on staff to impose the change from weekly pay in the case of St James Park and the pay date in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. The changes will have the same effect.

 

OCS will withhold two week’s pay that our members have already earned, which they will get back when they leave. OCS will offer the two weeks as a loan that they will deduct over 12 months, putting the employees into debt and wiping out any pay award. OCS will save thousands to the detriment of the employees who will be out of pocket.

 

That is the reason members will vote on strike action. The state opening of Parliament is coming up and so too is Trooping the Colour at St James Park. Gardeners from St James Park also maintain the Downing St gardens. It is also the main bedding season. Strike action will have a major impact on these events.”

 

End

 

Copy of GMB press release dated 13th February:

Dispute Looms At Royal Parks As Contractor OCS Seeks To Move From Weekly To Monthly Pay In St James Park Without Consultation

Some members in the other parks not receiving their pay slips on time and there is little faith in the monthly pay system at Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens says GMB.

GMB members employed by OCS in Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, St James's Park, The Green Park, Grosvenor Square and Brompton Cemetery in London are seeking an urgent meeting over a move by OCS from weekly to monthly pay in St James Park without any consultation with staff and on a number of other issues.

TUPE legislation covered staff which ensured that terms and conditions are protected when OCS won a new seven year contact last summer covering all landscape maintenance operations. Landscape maintenance services include all horticulture work (excluding tree work); litter picking; refuse collection; road/path sweeping; cleansing; gritting; playground inspection; and grave digging at Brompton Cemetery. Large numbers of these members employed as parks gardeners have been in post for many years, some for more than 40 years.

Gary Carter, GMB Regional Officer, said “Members in the other parks are still not receiving their pay slips on time and there is little faith in the current monthly pay system at Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

I am seeking an urgent meeting with OCS to discuss this matter, along with the pay claim, issues on pensions and the failure to deliver a promised hamper.

OCS wrote to staff in St James Park on 6th Feb 2015 without any meaningful consultation with staff regarding the change from weekly to monthly pay.

The content and wording of the letter implies this change to the payroll process is already a foregone conclusion.

Any major change to terms and conditions has to subject to a collective consultation process. 

However no changes can be made without full meaningful consultation and agreement. It OCS tries to bypass this requirement I will have no hesitation to approach the Regional Committee for permission to ballot members for action.”

End

 

 

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