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UVW cleaners vote to strike
Trade union United Voices of the World's biggest industrial action to date will be happening in June as cleaners, carers and concierge members will strike together to demand better pay and conditions across nine different workplaces in and around London.
Workplaces involved in the dispute include billion-pound global giants Amazon and Mercedes-Benz, as well as the London School of Economics, the Streatham and Clapham school, La Retraite state school, Sage Nursing home, the Department for Education, luxury apartments West End Quays and media powerhouse Ogilvy at the Sea Containers’ building.
“These companies or institutions are financially healthy while the workers who keep their lucrative operations running 24/7 struggle to get by on poverty wages and dismal conditions,” argues the union.
The black, brown and migrant workers are calling for a pay rise to cope with the increased cost of living. In some cases they are asking for a modest increase to the London Living Wage of £11.95 per hour while others are demanding £13 and even £15 an hour. Those at the LSE are asking for their lawful entitlement to annual leave pay and amended contracts; at Streatham and Clapham School the cleaners are calling for full sick pay and an end to outsourcing; and in the Department for Education the workers are demanding parity with civil service benefits while in other sites the workers are resisting what they say are detrimental changes to the timetable.
“As a general rule the vast majority of cleaners get up between 4am and 5am,” says Magaly Quesada Herrera, a UVW member at La Retraite Roman Catholic School. “We have to work at least 10 hours a day to barely make ends and tend to work several jobs of one - two hours. The jobs are in different places which means we are on the streets for approximately 12 to 14 hours a day, eating many times in buses, far from our families and with hardly any rest. On many occasions our only contact with our children is during the week and over mobile phone”.
Kadijatu Jalloh, UVW member at the Department for Education, says:
“We are all frustrated and we are overworked, our demands are just and fair. They don’t talk to us right, they talk to us like children. We are parents, we have grandchildren, we have the right to be respected so we have come together as one. Just because I am a cleaner and they sit down in their offices it does not make them better than us or more important than us. When we strike they will know and see how important we are.”
18th May 2023