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Low-paid MoJ staff win vital vote for union recognition

OUTSOURCED staff at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) have voted in favour of trade union recognition despite a “sustained campaign of union-busting,” according to United Voices of the World (UVW). 

Cleaners, porters and security at the ministry’s central London office have become the first Whitehall workers to be officially represented by a non-TUC-affiliated union after voting 70 per cent in favour of recognition in a statutory ballot administered by the Central Arbitration Committee.

UVW, which largely represents low-paid migrant workers, alleged that MoJ contractor OCS had attempted to interfere with the ballot process.

The union said that the firm had offered higher pay to staff whom it believed would vote in favour of recognition, providing they agreed to be transferred to a different site.

OCS denied these allegations but declined to comment further. 

The MoJ and OCS have received heavy criticism over allegations that they repeatedly ignored safety concerns, including a lack of personal protective equipment, at the height of the pandemic. 

One worker, Emanuel Gomes, died in April after continuing to go to work while sick.

His union said that he felt under pressure to keep turning up because he could not afford to live on statutory sick pay. 

In response to the ballot result, MoJ cleaner Fatima Djalo said: “We beat their union-busting and won our rights. I’m delirious with happiness with this result. Now let’s go for full victory!”

UVW organiser Molly De Dios Fisher said: “We were always confident the workers would vote in favour of union recognition.

“They have had enough of the appalling treatment they have suffered, not just under the pandemic but throughout their time at the MoJ.”

Ms De Dios Fisher said that while the union welcomes the vote, it would continue fighting until the cleaners are brought in-house.

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