cleaners

News in brief

Cleaners win
The Living Wage Campaign at University College London (UCL) has claimed victory after the university agreed to pay cleaners the London Living Wage. The living wage is meant to be introduced over the next two years. The UCL Living Wage Campaign was formed two years ago and is an alliance of cleaners, students, academics, and staff.

For years London universities have been paying low wages to their cleaners. To date, thanks to pressure from various groups and campaigns, all London universities except University College London have been forced to pay their cleaners above the minimum wage and raise pay to at least the London Living Wage. The Campaign at UCL has vowed not to disband until the London Living Wage is fully implemented and all low-paid staff are well organised.

International news in brief

India: boss shoots at striking workers
A ‘manager’ at the Combo Allied Nippon Company in Sahibabad, India, shot at striking workers before they overpowered him. Nine workers have now been arrested for his murder.

Around 400 workers had been striking over the issues of contracts, bonuses and a pay rise. Company officials went to confront strikers and opened fire with 4-5 shots, wounding a worker. Workers then fought with officials leaving several injured on both sides and the shooter dead.

Sources close to the workers claim that many of the so-called ‘management’ are in fact company goons hired to break the union, and that beatings of workers have become commonplace. Reportedly it was also “quite common for them to roam inside the factory openly carrying the guns in order to terrorise the workers.”

Cleaning up on the tube

London tube cleaners have won crucial pay increases from cleaning companies, with their £5.50 an hour poverty wages being brought up to £7.45.

Cleaners on Metronet contracts were granted the ‘ London living wage’ in July through a wider initiative whilst those working for ISS (contracted by Tubelines) won a staggered pay rise in pre-strike negotiations in August.

With the 48hour RMT strike in June/July and the planned three day strike in August forcing the hand of ISS, the cleaners have demonstrated their strength and gained from it. However, their fight is far from over with the strike committee continuing to meet in pursuit of unmet demands - more holidays, better sick pay, a decent pension and an end to the scandal of ‘third party sackings’.

Cleaning up on the tube

London tube cleaners have won crucial pay increases from cleaning companies, with their £5.50 an hour poverty wages being brought up to £7.45.

Cleaners on Metronet contracts were granted the ‘ London living wage’ in July through a wider initiative whilst those working for ISS (contracted by Tubelines) won a staggered pay rise in pre-strike negotiations in August.

With the 48hour RMT strike in June/July and the planned three day strike in August forcing the hand of ISS, the cleaners have demonstrated their strength and gained from it. However, their fight is far from over with the strike committee continuing to meet in pursuit of unmet demands - more holidays, better sick pay, a decent pension and an end to the scandal of ‘third party sackings’.

Dirty dealings at the LSE

At the London School of Economics the cleaning contract is held by ISS, a multinational with lots of privatised cleaning contracts, including the London Underground. The cleaners are mainly Latin American with poor English and a fear of joining a union or speaking out about their lousy pay and conditions.

As a result of a campaign by Justice for Cleaners, the LSE has adopted the London Living Wage which is higher than the National Minimum Wage. However, it was phased in over three years of the new cleaning contract.

Worse, the workers are paying for it. They are currently paid £6 per hour but staffing has been cut and they have to work harder. This has affected standards of cleaning - management blame the new contract for mice in the Library.

Taken to the cleaners

Cleaners on the London Underground chalked up an impressive victory in January when Clara Osagiede, a Cleaners Grade union secretary with the RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport Union), had her sacking decision overturned in a disciplinary hearing with ISS, the owners of the cleaning contract on the Tube.

Solidarity with cleaners again

NLSF once again joined other militants to demonstrate outside London & Regional Properties, owners of company Berns Salonger, notoroious bosses of cleaners in Sweeden fighting for their dignity.

This followed on from a very successful mass demonstration on Friday 13th August. However the demo was less well attended, and a slight organisational hitch meant the leaflets for distrobution arrived late. None-the-less, international solidarity was shown to the workers in Sweeden, and may their fight continue onwards to success.

The Cleaners Defence Committee is a network of cleaners, workers and militants who have supported migrant workers in their struggles in London for fair treatment and a living wage.

Dirty deeds done dirt cheap - Immigrant cleaners: the “hard-to-organise” are self-organising

Workers in contract cleaning face low wages, a lack of basic employment rights, bullying management and victimisation for union activities. However, especially among Latin Americans, self-organisation has sustained struggles against the un-scrupulous multinational companies who employ them, and against the immigration controls which are used to sack un-wanted workers and victimise union acti-vists. Those struggles highlight the inadequacy of the “organising model” of trades unionism promoted by the likes of Unite!

Strike in the city

Latin American cleaners on Friday 3rd April held the latest in a series of weekly demonstrations outside their former workplace in the insurance firm Willis in the City of London against the sacking of five of their colleagues by the Mitie cleaning contractor. The four men and one woman were dismissed following an email conversation with management, in which the cleaners registered their unhappiness at a sudden change in shift patterns, done without consultation.