18 February 2014
UNISON’s Industrial Action Committee has authorised the first two day strike by SOAS cleaners employed by ISS. The strike will take place on Tuesday 4th and Wednesday 5th March 2014.
SOAS will be looking for maximum support and solidarity from all parts of the movement. To send messages of support or to ask for speakers at your union branch/campaign meeting email firstname.lastname@example.org
The SOAS ISS cleaners voted 100% YES for industrial action on a 62% turnout of those balloted (see the press release below that UNISON have just issued).
100% vote ‘YES’ for strike action
UNISON has balloted members employed by ISS who returned a 100% yes vote in favour of taking strike action. These members work for ISS on their SOAS contract and this action is the culmination of an long-running dispute over terms and condition of work.
The strike will be held on Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 March 2014.
Employees of ISS at SOAS receive only statutory sick pay and the statutory minimum annual leave whilst colleagues employed directly by SOAS receive contractual sick pay, 30 days annual leave and a defined benefits pension scheme. The cleaners and maintenance workers have been campaigning for many years to receive parity with in-house workers for sick pay, annual leave and pensions however, ISS has stated that they will not improve terms and conditions.
“We have been fighting to obtain our well deserved right to be treated equally with those working directly for the university. We are going to strike because it is the only way that ISS and SOAS will listen to our demands to be treated equally” said one of the cleaners and a union representative. “After many years working at this university, I am still not receiving the same benefits as those working directly for the institution. Why are we being treated differently? If we are sick we do not get contractual sick pay, and as we are getting older, we are concerned that we will not receive a decent pension. If we do not fight now for a decent pension scheme, we and our families will live below the poverty line when we retire.”
“ We knew that members were committed to taking action even though the employer had intervened to try and persuade our members not to support this campaign.” said Ruth Levin UNISON Regional Organiser. “The outcome of this ballot should be a wake-up call to ISS and SOAS. They need to listen to their staff and improve terms and conditions. Our members shouldn’t be unable to pay their rent if they happen to be ill.”
The ISS workers have received strong support from their colleagues working for SOAS and from the students who understand how important the cleaners’ work is and believe that they should be treated with parity.
UNISON is calling on ISS to get back around the table to resolve this dispute and is calling on SOAS to use their influence to intervene to improve terms and conditions for all on campus.