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3 days of strike disruption
A bus load of cleaners, carers and concierge workers, together with dozens of supporters, went on a whistle stop tour of five workplaces in which their colleagues were taking industrial action this week, at the start of three days of disruption involving seven groups of workers.
Large numbers of the workers picketed the offices of the Department for Education, publishing powerhouse Ogilvy, the London School of Economics and Sage Nursing home, also leafleting residents at West End Quays luxury apartments.
A spokesperson said: "These low-paid, precarious and migrant workers are calling for dignity, equality and respect. Specific demands include full sick pay, an end to outsourcing, £15 an hour, unsocial hours enhancements and more.
"Refusing to be invisible, the UVW open-top double decker strike bus is cutting through the heart of the establishment in central London, gathering support along the way and in local communities."
The strike began outside the Department for Education, where cleaners are demanding parity with in-house civil servants, the same sick pay and the same holiday entitlements. Kadija, one of the strikers, told the crowd: "We are mothers and grandmothers but they treat us like we are children. Some of us have been working for the DfE for over 20 years. We want respect!"
The bus and its passengers then headed off to the Sea Containers building, to support the striking night cleaners who clean the offices of Ogilvy there and are fighting for sick pay and a decent pay rise. The activists and supporters entered the building calling for negotiations and chanting "shame on you!". They demanded that Ogilvy give the night cleaners full pay, sick pay and a decent wage to compensate them for the health risks associated with night work.
Third stop of the day was at the London School of economics, where cleaners are fighting for backdated holiday pay. "We keep them clean!" veteran UVW striker and cleaner Mildred said, as the Halls of Residence cleaners demanded that they are paid the holiday pay they are owed. These UVW cleaners are no strangers to strike action as six years ago in June 2017 UVW workers won a historic fight to end outsourcing and be brought in house.
The bus then went North to Sage Nursing, where there were expressions of solidarity from the community. Zack Polanski, the deputy leader of the Green party in England and Wales, told the crowd from atop the bus: "It's not a cost of living crisis but an inequality crisis... low-paid migrant working class people are struggling... we will hold the millionaires to account. Collective solidarity will always win!"
The care and domestic workers here want a pay rise, better rates for weekend and night work and an enhanced sick pay scheme because quality care deserves quality pay.
Martin Abrams, a councillor from Streatham and Clapham, also turned up at the pickets in solidarity with the cleaners at Streatham and Clapham High School in his borough. He tweeted: "It's time for these key workers to be brought in-house, provided with an inflation proof pay rise, sick pay & annual leave."
The final stop for the bus was West End Quayside, luxury apartment blocks in Central London where agency cleaners and concierge workers were seen breaking the strike to the consternation of supportive residents.
Franco, a concierge from West End Quays luxury apartments, who was on strike and at the pickets, said: "We've been fighting for a long time for what we deserve."
22nd June 2023