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Job centre security guards in Margate walk out over pay

Hundreds of job centre security guards are walking out today as a pay dispute escalates.

Officers in Margate will join those employed by private outsourcing giant G4S across the south east and east of England for the week-long strike.

The job centre in Mill Lane, Margate. Picture: Google
The job centre in Mill Lane, Margate. Picture: Google

Eamon O’Hearn, national officer at the GMB union representing them, said: “It’s not rocket science – if the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and G4S want to end this dispute, make sure these guards are paid enough to live on.

“G4S has been handed millions by the government, yet our members can barely afford to feed their families.

“The work they do is hard; they are attacked with alarming regularity just for doing their job.

“The least they expect is to be paid a proper wage.”

According to research by GMB more than 80% of security guards regularly suffer abuse, including being savaged in the neck by dogs, punched, attacked with screwdrivers and customers behaving “like wild animals”.

The union claims 90% of the guards are now paid just the minimum wage.

Job centre security workers will walk out today. Photo: Stock
Job centre security workers will walk out today. Photo: Stock

It says the DWP has shelled out £211 million to G4S since December 2022 despite staff costs being just £161 million during the same period - a difference of £50 million.

The union says the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) is attempting to arrange talks to settle the dispute, but the DWP is refusing to participate.

According to the DWP, job centres will remain open during the industrial action “where it is safe to do so”.

Where a job centre might have to close staff will contact customers to reschedule appointments and signpost urgent appointments to alternative locations.

Benefit, state pension and other DWP payments will not be affected by the proposed strike action. Telephone services will also not be affected.

A G4S spokesperson said: "Our dedicated security colleagues do a great job and support an essential public service, sometimes in difficult circumstances. The majority of our staff have not been on strike.

“We urge the union to present our offer to our employees, which is above minimum wage and inflation. We want to give our staff a pay rise and are keen to bring this dispute to an amicable conclusion.”

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