Cancelled strike action by security staff cost Parliament £100k

Houses of Parliament. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA
Houses of Parliament. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA
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Parliament lost out on £100,000 due to cancelled events and lost tourist trade as a result of a threatened strike by security staff that was called off at the last minute, The Yorkshire Post can reveal.

According to a Freedom of Information response, the abandoned industrial action cost the Commons £65,000 in lost banqueting revenues and a further £628 due to cancelled tours of the estate.

And the Lords was left out of pocket by £35,000 after it was forced to call off booked catering events.

However, the House of Commons authorities have insisted that the cancellations were necessary and that they have made efforts to recoup the losses.

The strike was planned for March 20 but was called off at the 11th hour after union chiefs and Parliamentary officials reached a breakthrough during negotiations over working conditions and treatment of staff.

Speaking at the time, head of the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents the workers, Mark Serwotka said: “This is a significant victory for our security guards.

“It proves that strong trade union organisation and negotiation brings results.”

Responding to the findings over lost revenue, a Parliament spokesperson said: “We were pleased that as a result of constructive engagement with the union we were able to avoid planned strike action, however we had to take action in cancelling events and tours based on an assessment of the risk of the strike going ahead.

“Those impacted were offered priority assistance in rebooking their events and tours, with some lost income recovered.”

In response to a Freedom of Information request over the cost of the strike, the Commons authorities replied: “It is estimated that £65,000 was lost in banqueting revenues. A further £628 was lost after an early morning tour of the Palace of Westminster on this day was cancelled.”

The Lords authorities said: “A number of prebooked catering events were cancelled, leading to a loss of revenue amounting to £34,775.00.”

Ahead of the planned industrial action, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell pledged his support to the workers and promised to join them on the picket line.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “All security guards working in the Palace of Westminster should have the same working conditions and the same rights.“I pay tribute to the hardworking staff who are essential to the functioning of Parliament and help to keep thousands of people who work in and visit the Palace of Westminster safe every day.

“We must lead by example when it comes to workers’ rights, and I will be encouraging Labour Members of Parliament, and Members of Parliament from across all parties, to support the security guards in seeking what is right and fair.”

The security staff were also backed in their campaign by former Policing Minister and Conservative MP Mike Penning.

On learning that the standoff had been resolved, he said: “I’m thrilled that common sense has prevailed.

“Naturally our security staff didn’t want to strike but it seems to me they had no choice but to threaten action.”

He added: “I’m so pleased it’s all sorted.”