Cleaners' stuggles

Submitted by AWL on 12 February, 2014 - 11:29

Cleaning workers at the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS) in central London will strike on 4-5 March.

The cleaners, who are employed by ISS, are members of Unison. Their strike ballot returned a 100% yes vote for strikes, on a 62% turnout.

The strike aims to win improved sick pay, annual leave, and pension rights for the cleaners, who currently receive only statutory sick pay and annual leave, and, while they can join ISS's pension scheme, are excluded from joining the SOAS scheme alongside their directly-employed colleagues.

The union intends to announce strike dates in the coming days. Supporters can donate to their strike fund here.

For more information and regular updates, see the Justice for Cleaners SOAS Facebook page.

ISS cleaners on London Underground have received letters demanding they agree to biometric booking-on (fingerprinting) by 2 March.

Their union, the Rail, Maritime, and Transport workers union (RMT) has already put industrial action in place, whereby cleaners will boycott the machines and only use existing booking-on procedures. 

The union has also indicated it will ballot cleaners for strikes over this issue.

Cleaner activists commented that the plans should be seen in the context of Tube bosses’ wider job cuts agenda, as biometric booking-on means existing Station Supervisors no longer have to oversee cleaners’ booking-on process, and will allow cleaners to work on unstaffed stations, giving bosses another pretext to cut station jobs.

The rank-and-file bulletin Tubeworker will be building support for the cleaners’ struggle.

Workers employed by Compass Medirest at Ealing Hospital, West London, struck from 19 to 21 February.

The workers, who work as cleaning workers, catering workers, help-desk workers, and porters, also struck on 12 and 13 February.

The workers currently earn only the minimum wage, and are fighting for greater equality with directly-employed NHS staff.

A GMB union statement said: “These vital NHS workers want an end to a two tier workforce. At a minimum they are 44% below the lowest comparable NHS rate in London of £9.09 per hour.”

The union’s long-term goal is to win the London Living Wage of £8.80 per hour.

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