Cleaners organise and strike

Submitted by SJW on 8 August, 2018 - 12:04 Author: Gemma Short
MoJ Strike

Cleaners at the Ministry of Justice and Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council (RBKC) will strike on 7, 8 and 9 August over pay and unfair working conditions.

The cleaners at the Ministry of Justice are contracted by outsourced cleaning company OCS, and those at RBKC are employed by Amey.

Cleaning workers at Health Care America (HCA) locations in London will also strike later in August. HCA is the biggest private healthcare company in the world and has sites in London including at the Shard, Guy′s Cancer Centre, and Harley Street Clinic. It′s cleaning is outsourced to Compass.

All of the workers at organised by the United Voices of the World (UVW) union and share three common demands:
• An occupational sick pay scheme: Amey, OCS and Compass do not have an occupational sick pay scheme. This means workers rely on Statutory Sick Pay. SSP is unpaid for the first three days of illness, and just £18 per day from the fourth day of sickness onwards. 

• Parity of terms and conditions with directly employed staff: The second common grievance and demand of the strike is equality between subcontracted and directly employed staff in terms of holiday entitlements, hours and overtime pay. A two-tier workforce leads to undercutting, a race to the bottom and exploitation says the UVW.

• Payment of the London Living Wage with guaranteed annual increments: The London Living Wage is currently £10.20 per hour –- a stark contrast to the National Minimum Wage, bizarrely re-labelled the National Living Wage by the Conservative Government in 2016, which is just £7.83 per hour.

As Solidarity went to press on 7 August RBKC had just announced they would be ending contracts with Amey and taking cleaning contracts back in house.

As with a lot of other strikes involving low paid, and precariously employed workers, these strikes are about safety and dignity at work as well as pay. Mercedes, a striking cleaner at HCA said: “We are not just demanding fair pay, we need basic vaccinations, including Hepatitis B and Tetanus, which are being denied to us even though we regularly come in direct contact with bodily fluids including blood. These are luxury hospitals, why can’t we get what we need?”

Cleaners and supporters will picket at a variety of Ministry of Justice and RBKC locations during the three strike days, and will be joined by Labour′s Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad at their picket at RBKC on Tuesday 7 August.

• Donate to the strike fund:

Goldsmiths cleaners’ strike

By a Goldsmiths student

Cleaners at Goldsmiths College, University of London, are campaigning with their union Unison, and the broader campaign Justice for Cleaners Goldsmiths, for their jobs to be brought in-house. Currently cleaning is outsourced to ISS but the contract is due to end in November.

In advance of that deadline the company has imposed a new contract on staff, worsening already poor conditions, cutting hours and wages. Complaints include lack of sick pay, holiday pay, pension entitlement and late payment of wages. None of the workers were consulted about the changes to their contract. It will involve changes in work patterns which will force many staff to leave.

One cleaner said: “I feel very demoralised as is my only source of income. This change will drastically affect my wages as I will lose 15 hours per week. Having an overall effect on my expenditure for my home. I have a daughter that I support and family overseas.”

Hundreds of staff, academic and other, as well as students, have pledged support for the cleaners, but so far Goldsmiths have made no commitments.

• More cleaners’ testimony:

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