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Serco workers vote to strike over the targeting of union activists

SERCO employees in London have voted to strike over the targeting of union activists, in the latest industrial dispute to hit the outsourcing firm, Unite announced today.

After a near-unanimous vote, more than 40 civil enforcement officers in Ealing will walk out over Serco’s offer of severance to elected Unite representatives, a move that the union branded an attempt to undermine worker organisation.

Strike dates will be announced in due course.

Unite warned that Serco has also refused to negotiate a new absence-management policy for the Ealing employees, with the present arrangement being used to unfairly dismiss workers, according to the union. 

The dispute follows a “botched and unjustified” restructuring and redundancy programme that the company tried to instigate in late 2019 with minimal consultation, Unite said.

Catering workers employed by the outsourcer at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel are also being balloted for strike action in a dispute over bullying and the imposition of new rotas.

And at the Devonport naval base in Plymouth, tractor-tug crew members employed by Serco Marine are in dispute with the company over a new roster system, which Unite said poses health and safety risks. 

Unite regional officer Clare Keogh said: “The company’s severance offers are a blatant attempt to weaken trade union organisation.

“It is no surprise that Serco’s race-to-the-bottom tactics of targeting staff and degrading services are the cause of three disputes with Unite members. 

“Leeching the public purse for profit is the raison d’etre for outsourcers like Serco, which is why Unite believes that [public] services should be brought back in-house.”

A Serco spokesperson said the company was “surprised” by the ballot and remained open to talks with Unite to find a way forward. 

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