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Security guards at Lancaster Jobcentre speak out as they strike over pay

G4S security staff taking industrial action outside Lancaster Jobcentre on Tuesday

Security guards on strike outside Lancaster Jobcentre have spoken about their fight for better pay for what can be a dangerous job.

More than 1,400 Jobcentre security guards across the country have begun a week long strike in anger over their pay rates.

Some UK Jobcentres, including at Lancaster and Morecambe, are closed this week due to the industrial action.

Guards employed by global security firm G4S spoke to Beyond Radio while on the picket line outside the Jobcentre at Mitre House in Lancaster on Tuesday.

One of them, Jonny Sykes, said: "We're striking at the moment for fair pay for G4S staff that work on DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) sites and Jobcentre sites.

"We believe that we deserve to be paid above the minimum wage for the job that we do.

"We do security for Jobcentres. We help support the public coming in for appointments, we sign visitors in to the building, we also have to deal with the nastier side of it when you have claimants coming in when they're upset and they cause issues and kick off, and it does sometimes escalate.

"There are a lot of Jobcentres shut. Morecambe and Lancaster are shut. We are all here today from Lancaster and Morecambe, and we have a chap who has travelled all the way from Blackburn.

"GMB are trying to negotiate with G4S to try to get us a reasonable pay rise. It will be a certain percentage above minimum wage. So far the offers which have been put in have been rejected.

"G4S have come back with ridiculous offers which have forced us to go for industrial action, which we don't want to do because it upsets everything. But we deserve to get paid properly."

Lancaster Jobcentre is pictured below

Eamon O’Hearn, National Officer for the GMB Union, said: “Jobcentre security guards are punched, attached and savaged in the neck by dogs - just for carrying out their duties.

“Yet 90 per cent of them struggle to get by on the minimum wage, while G4S trouser millions from the DWP.

“It’s abhorrent and these strikes will keep escalating unless G4S agrees to pay them a wage they can live on.”

A G4S spokesperson said: "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.

“Our contingency plans, agreed in partnership with DWP have proved highly effective in maintaining a full service, and we continue to adapt them to ensure the safety of DWP locations, employees and the service users."

G4S said they have made 12 pay offers to GMB since 2022. They said the latest offer is a backdated 6.5 per cent uplift and further increases on average of 9.3 per cent in December 2023 to reinstate all differentials including 23 pence above minimum wage.

A sign outside Lancaster Jobcentre on Tuesday said that all appointments were being carried out over the telephone or on video calls due to the strike action.

Benefit, State Pension and other DWP payments will not be affected by the strike action.

The DWP said they will contact customers if appointments need to be rescheduled and signpost urgent appointments to alternative locations.

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