In New Zealand, the trend of educational institutions has been to out-source cleaning, leading to a decline in the pay and conditions of cleaners, ‘invisible’ workers without whom tertiary education institutions could not function!  In London, however, an important victory has been won by cleaners at the London School of Economics.  This victory shows what can be achieved by ‘precarious’ workers when they decide to fight and have a union which is focused on serious struggle.  The union is called United Voices of the World and consists almost entirely of migrant workers, especially from Latin America.  UVW recruits its members mainly in the low-pay and outsourced London economy – cleaners, porters, construction, childcare workers, people working in customer service and security, etc.

The following statement was released by the union on June 10:

UVW is proud to announce that the LSE cleaners will be BROUGHT IN-HOUSE and become employees of the LSE from Spring 2018! This will ensure they get, among other things, 41 days annual leave, 6 months full pay sick pay and 6 months half pay sick pay, plus proper employer pension contributions of up to 13% of their salary.

This is the most significant victory for any group of workers in UK higher education today, and will hopefully set a precedent to follow for other degraded, outsourced workers across the country.

This announcement comes on the back of an awe-inspiring 10-month battle for dignity and equality waged by the cleaners, through their union UVW which represents the near entirety of the unionised cleaners on the LSE campus.

This dispute saw the largest number of cleaners – all of whom are migrant and BAME workers and most of whom had never been unionised before – in UK history strike from a single workplace, and saw the the cleaners take 7 days of strike action in total, with 3 more pledged for the LSE’s student graduation days in July. There were also several protests and two occupations through the course of this dispute.

The cleaners were heavily supported by the student-led Justice for LSE Cleaners Campaign and the wider trade union movement. Support from people such as Owen Jones, who refused to cross the cleaners’ picket line, was also crucial in bringing pressure to bear in support of the cleaners actions.

We are particularly gratified that the new UNISON branch secretary wrote to UVW to congratulate us and the cleaners on the success of our campaign.

This victory is yet another vindication of the power of organised workers and the importance of collective action, including strike action, in winning dignity and equality at work.

Our members will be meeting in the near future to vote on the details of the deal and, in particular, the transitory offer of enhanced T&Cs until the move in-house takes place.

Further: check out the montage of the LSE cleaners’ struggle: https://www.facebook.com/uvwunion/videos/1412830192118549/

 

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Comments
  1. Alan Scott says:

    What about the Glenfell fire? It’ll be a more worthwhile victory for the Left if you can help prove negligence or even complicity on the part of the local council.

  2. Susanne K says:

    One of the important things about this victory is that it is another nail in the coffin of the absurd portrayal of migrant workers as poor victims – migrant workers often have a higher level of consciousness than the workers of the First World and are perfectly capable of fighting – and winning. They bring important attributes that First World workers really need if they themselves are to struggle effectively. Long live migrant workers – open borders, workers’ solidarity.