The United Voices of the World union is asking supporters to email the headteacher of La Retraite Roman Catholic Girls’ School in south west London, and the boss of the company to which it outsources cleaning, to protest at the withdrawal of pay from 13 cleaners at the school.
The cleaners exercised their rights under Section 44 of the 1996 Employment Rights Act to refuse unsafe work. UVW says that after weeks of pressure, cleaners resumed work on 8 February. Ecocleen, the outsourced cleaning contractor, had agreed to implement “improved supply of PPE and hand gel, staggered start and finish times, alternate working days to reduce the number of cleaners on site at any given time, temperature checks at the start of their shifts, and the abolishment of the requirement for cleaners to sign in and out in the same small, cramped room as one another using one single telephone which put them at high risk of transmitting Covid-19 to one another.”
The union’s model letter states: “Following the closure of school to all but vulnerable children and those of key workers after the second more contagious and deadly variant of Covid-19 began to push the UK towards the highest death rates and infection rates in the world, Ecocleen [the outsourced contractor] failed to make any material adjustments to the cleaners’ working patterns and practices and expected them to carry on as normal leaving them exposed to unforgivably high risks of contracting Covid-19.”
Meanwhile, UVW has raised nearly £30,000 in a strike fund for care workers in the Sage care home in north London, who struck on 15-17 January and 4-8 February to demand wages of at least £12/hour, and parity with NHS staff on conditions like annual leave and sick pay.