New Covent Garden Market in Nine Elms London is facing severe disruption later this month as its outsourced security guards, employed by OCS Group UK Ltd, begin strike action over poverty rates of pay.
The security guards who work at the market, the hub of London’s fruit vegetable and plant trade, are paid just £9.69 an hour. As well as maintaining security, they are also act as the site’s first aiders and ensure that health and safety rules are applied.
OCS has refused to enter into pay negotiations with the workers, who are seeking to be paid at least the London Living Wage, which is currently set at £11.05 an hour. As a consequence, the workers will take an initial three days of strike action beginning on Sunday 25 September and ending at close of business on Tuesday 27 September.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Unite’s members are being paid poverty wages by an extremely wealthy company that can fully afford to pay the London Living Wage. OCS is boosting its profits by paying workers a pittance.
“Unite is entirely focused on defending and enhancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members. Our workers employed by OCS will receive the union’s total support.”
OCS Group UK Ltd is extremely wealthy. Its latest annual accounts for 2020 (during the pandemic) reveal that it made profits of £43.9 million.
Unite regional officer Steve Rowlatt added, “The strike action will cause disruption across New Covent Garden Market but this dispute is entirely of the company’s own making. Our members will not accept poverty pay rates any longer.”
By Barckley Sumner