Parliamentary security guards strike called off after last-ditch talks secure breakthrough

Posted On: 
19th March 2019

Parliamentary security guards have cancelled their planned strike action after eleventh-hour talks with Commons bosses secured a breakthrough.

TV star Carol Vorderman was set to attend an event in Parliament
PA Images

Negotiators at the Palace of Westminster found enough common ground to break a long-standing impasse - although Commons bosses said no final agreement had been reached.

Despite it being called off, the planned strike action has still caused chaos on the estate, with dozens of events cancelled in anticipation.

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Staff who police entrances to the Palace of Westminster were set to walk out for 24 hours on Wednesday in a row about working conditions and reinstatement of personnel.

They were going to be joined on the picket line by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, and had won support from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

But after a breakthrough in talks tonight, the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents the workers, called off the industrial action.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “This is a significant victory for our security guards. It proves that strong trade union organisation and negotiation brings results.”

But a UK Parliament spokesperson said: “PCS Union has announced this evening that the strike action planned for tomorrow has been suspended.

“While there has been no final agreement made, we continue to engage constructively with the union.”

The Palace of Westminster has had to issue refunds to event organisers who had their plans cancelled. In total some 24 events had to be ditched or postponed.

TV star and maths whizz Carol Vorderman was set to attend a meeting in the Speaker’s House about support for single parent families which had to be canned ahead of the disruption.

Previous issues about break times and other contracting matters had already been resolved in talks between the PCS and parliamentary bosses.

The security guards were handed a boost last month when former policing minister Mike Penning, who served in the Home Office between 2014 and 2016, backed their campaign.

The Tory MP told PoliticsHome tonight: "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."