Security guards working in Oldham who face "horrific violence" went on strike yesterday.

Workers, employed by G4S, are in dispute over a below-inflation pay offer, meaning nearly 70 per cent of the security guards in the North West are now only paid the minimum wage.

The guards on the picket line are those protecting the Jobcentre Plus, in Oldham's case it can be found on Union Street, as GMB (General and Municipal Workers') Union claim staff face some of the worst abuse.

Eamon O’Hearn, national officer for the union, said: "Job Centre security guards are eking out a living on just above the minimum wage, despite facing horrific violence and abuse while on the job.

“Yet now we can see their employer G4S is scooping a tidy amount of taxpayer cash by paying them so badly. 

“G4S can afford to pay these workers what they deserve – unless they do they are going to face a prolonged period of industrial action.”

However, according to G4S, one of the world's leading security companies, it has made 12 pay offers to the union - with the latest offer a backdated 6.5 per cent and further increases on average of 9.3 per cent in Dec 2023, to reinstate all differentials including 23 pence above minimum wage.

A spokesperson for the company said: "We're disappointed that the GMB has refused to take our improved pay offer to their members.

"We are continuing to try to reach an amicable agreement, and have implemented contingency plans to minimise disruption to our customer.”

Meanwhile, GMB has claimed that the company has pocketed £50 million of taxpayer cash since the dispute began. 

G4S, who have the government contract to provide security for job centres, was handed £211 million by the Department for Work and Pensions since Dec 2022. 

Guarding payments – essentially the company’s employment costs – during the same period total £161 million. Even with £3.5 million of ‘additional payments’ - this is a difference of almost £50 million, the union explained.