Workers at the Ministry of Justice win campaign for ‘full pay sick pay’

Ministry of Justice sign
Support us and go ad-free

The Ministry of Justice has been pressured into granting cleaners, security guards and other outsourced staff full pay for any coronavirus (Covid-19) related sick leave, backdated to 1 April.


This victory follows a high profile campaign by United Voices of the World (UVW) over the death of Emanuel Gomes, a cleaner at the Ministry of Justice who died in April with Coronavirus symptoms.

UVW is a trade union that “supports and empowers the most vulnerable groups of precarious, low-paid and predominantly migrant workers in the UK”.

In a press release, seen by The Canary, UVW has “vowed to continue its now two year long struggle for a living wage and full pay from day one of any period of sick leave. UVW is bringing legal proceedings against the Ministry of Justice to argue outsourcing the entirely migrant and BAME cleaners and security guards without parity with civil servants’ terms and conditions, including sick pay, breaches the Equality Act 2010.”


The press release continued: “The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced today that it has released new funds so that contracted cleaners working in the department will receive full pay sick pay in the event they have to self-isolate due to Covid-19. The MoJ also announced outsourced cleaners who have already self-isolated due to Covid-19 will receive a back payment from 1 April.

“The decision has come about through a prolonged campaign waged by UVW, which has seen cleaners and security guards undertake six days of strike action and two occupations of the Ministry of Justice’s HQ.

“Designated as Key Workers, OCS staff have been compelled to continue cleaning offices at the MoJ, in the midst of the pandemic. However, successive investigations by journalists have revealed that cleaners were unable to self-isolate due to a lack of sick pay and that management at the MoJ and OCS ignored repeated warnings of a lack of Personal Protective Equipment, potential clusters of Covid-19 infections, and that employees who did self-isolate were unlawfully dismissed and their wages deducted.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

“One cleaner at the Ministry of Justice, Emanuel Gomes, died with Coronavirus symptoms in April. A fundraiser for his family to repatriate his body to Guinea Bissau raised over £25,000.

“Most recently Labour MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice David Lammy called for an investigation into the affair.”


Molly de Dios Fisher, a UVW organiser, said the following:

We are proud to have finally forced the Ministry of Justice to pay full pay sick pay which would not have happened without the near two year long struggle of our members who have taken repeated strike action, protested and even resorted to occupying the MoJ’s HQ. Whilst this new sick pay scheme is welcome, the MoJ has not committed to providing full pay sick pay for any non-Coronavirus related sick leave which we will, along with the living wage, continue to demand and fight for. We also wish to stress how deeply angry and saddened we are that this decision has come too late to save our member Emanuel Gomes, a cleaner at the MoJ who tragically passed away in April with Coronavirus symptoms. Had this sick pay policy been implemented sooner Emanuel might still be with us today. We will continue to fight for Justice for Emanuel.

Fatima Djalo, a cleaner working at the MoJ headquarters in Petty France said the following:

I am very very very happy and proud of myself, of the union and of the people that have supported us in this struggle. With this support and unity we managed to win something they would never have granted us. We are now going to keep fighting until we win the rest. They made that decision because of the pressure, they have no heart, our life means nothing to those people, we are like rubbish to them, we are never valued there.

Featured image via Flickr – CP Hoffman

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us