Cleaners say ‘yes’ to living wage! No to a cut in hours!

27th May 2012

Chris Ford, IWW London Regional Secretary, reports on a hard fought campaign for the living wage for cleaners at St Georges, London.

Cleaners at St Georges, University of London, have won the London Living Wage from August. The cleaners campaign was supported by LRC members and chair John McDonnell MP who lodged EDM 129. But the cleaners are not celebrating yet and are still fighting as they face a threat of a wage cut by a reduction in their hour and do not have recognition of their union – IWW. The statement below has just been issued by the St Georges, Industrial Group of the IWW, in response to the management.

You the cleaners have won the London Living Wage at St Georges, University of London from 1st August 2012. You won this by being organised and fighting together in our union the IWW. This is a great achievement and it because cleaners have stood together and remained united. The IWW and ONLY the IWW has campaigned for the London Living Wage for cleaners at St Georges.

  • The IWW with its friends in Parliament has raised your case in the House of Commons
  • The IWW organised the on-line petition, leaflets and demonstration
  • The IWW began a high-profile public campaign for the London Living Wage

It was only after the IWW Cleaners Branch called a demonstration did Ocean and St Georges announced they will pay the London Living Wage from August along with other concessions. However - do not be fooled. It is too early to celebrate. Cleaners organised in the IWW have won the London Living Wage before in other workplaces and we have faced the same danger. The cleaning companies try to make the cleaners pay for the wage rise by cutting hours, redundancies and making ‘efficiency savings’. This is exactly what is happening at St Georges University of London.

For some time Ocean has been trying to impose a cut in your hours and changes to your terms and conditions. That is to cut your wages. IWW managed to stop some of these changes. But Ocean is still trying to cut hours at Horton Hall. Ocean refused to hold a collective consultation meeting with you, they refused to meet with our union the IWW. Ocean has failed to provide our union with full information on their changes. On 22nd May Ocean Managing Director Andy Erskine wrote to IWW stating: ‘The Company will shortly be bringing the consultation process to a close ... This is the second time the process has been extended and it will not be extended further’. Has the plan to cut hours at Horton Hall been dropped? No! In the same announcement of the London Living Wage Ocean state they are to ‘keep the consultation process open throughout the summer’. The clear danger is at the end of the summer - on August 1st just as the London Living Wage is to be paid many cleaners may now have their hours cut. 
Our Union will not accept a pay rise being given with one hand and taken away with the other hand by a cut in hours. Until we have a guarantee of no cut in hours - that is a pay cut then our campaign for the London Living Wage without any strings attached will continue.

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on 10th June 2012 at 12:07, David Mitchell said:

This is another example of a private contractor trying to rip off the workers. I also believe a campaign to bring the cleaning in house with proper terms and conditions is the way forward. Too many times we see workers on outsourced contracts being short changed. We should be unequivocal and state in no uncertain terms that we will campaign for an end to contract labour. It never works for the workers and encourages bad employers and bad employment practices. End contracting out. Cleaners should be employed directly in house and paid a living wage.

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