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The Living Wage: a view from the sharp end
Andrew Marshall, managing director of London specialist in contract cleaning, Julius Rutherfoord, highlights the impact of the Living Wage and calls for others to show their support during Living Wage Week. He explains how Julius Rutherfoord is working with its client, City University London, to support cleaning staff by paying the London Living Wage.
“Living Wage Week takes place each November and is a celebration of the Living Wage and Living Wage employers. The cleaning profession has developed greatly over recent years, but it is still seen by some as lagging behind other sectors when it comes to offering support and development to its employees.
What are the elements that combine to make the perfect job? I’m betting that money, location, job satisfaction and how we get on with work colleagues would rank pretty highly.
Pay and the Living Wage regularly make the headlines, and are emphasised again in a new report from the Living Wage Foundation, launched as part of Living Wage Week. The cleaning industry has come under close scrutiny in terms of its treatment of operatives in recent years, as highlighted in another recent report, ‘The Invisible Workforce: Employment Practices in the Cleaning Sector’, published in August this year by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
Responsible employers are recognising the importance of paying a Living Wage that reflects the real cost of living, rewarding a hard day’s work with a fair day’s pay. My organisation is dedicated to the well-being of our staff, encouraging self-improvement through training, and rewarding hard work. We are a Living Wage recognised service provider and actively encourage all clients to adopt this rate for the cleaners on their contracts. We were pleased to be recognised for our endorsement of fair pay by being shortlisted amongst other forward thinking organisations for the Living Wage Champion Awards 2014.
Earlier this year, we were delighted to win a significant cleaning contract with City University London, which is ranked within the top 5% of universities in the world. When it was choosing a new contract provider, fair pay was a key issue, as not only is this renowned university committed to academic excellence, it also supports the London Living Wage.
All staff directly employed by City University London were already paid above the London Living Wage; however, some contractors with staff working on its campus were paying below that threshold. This had been a source of comment by staff, students and local stakeholders. The University listened very carefully to those comments and decided that on renewal of third party contracts, it would stipulate minimum pay rates at the level of the London Living Wage. This is in line with an emerging trend among older universities in London. Two new contracts at City University London, for catering and cleaning services, were renewed in August 2014 on this basis.
Ms Gomes Vilele is one of Julius Rutherfoord’s cleaning operatives working at City University London where she works four hours a day, five days a week. She cleans the washroom facilities and sometimes assists with cleaning the lecture halls. Before working for Julius Rutherfoord and City University London, she was earning the minimum wage and found that raising a family on that level of pay in London was very difficult.
Ms Gomes Vilele explains: “Now I am earning the London Living Wage, backed by on-going training and support at work, I am a lot happier. I have more money for my children that previously didn’t stretch very far past essentials. Sometimes we can allow ourselves a treat like all going to the cinema, which I couldn’t afford to do before.”
In order to provide the consistently excellent cleaning standards that clients quite rightly expect, you need a workforce that is loyal, motivated and well-trained, with as little staff turnover as possible. Organisations can deliver this by offering good working conditions – a mainstay of which is rewarding good work with fair pay.”
Established in 1994 by Dominic Morris-Marsham and Andy Beilby, Julius Rutherfoord has grown organically into a significant, high quality cleaning organisation with over 2,250 staff working within the London area. Customers benefit from its size, sophistication and premium service - but client communication remains personal, with the directors vigilant and available whenever necessary.
13th November 2014