3 day cleaners strike at MoJ, RBKC and HCA!

10 July 2018

From UVW

In an almost unprecedented move cleaners at the Ministry of Justice, Kensington and Chelsea Town halls and 6 privately owned hospital departments and outpatient clinics run by Health Care America, will strike simultaneously for 3 days from 7-9 August demanding the London Living Wage of £10.20 per hour!

That’s 3 days of stirke action at 3 companies and 11 sites!

Please donate to their strike funds here if you can. Any amount will help!
https://www.uvwunion.org.uk/current-campaigns/

INVISIBLE NO MORE’

Migrant workers at a government ministry, a local council and a prestigious private healthcare corporation are set to launch three unprecedented simultaneous strikes in their fight against poverty pay and for a living wage.

United Voices of the World (UVW) union members who clean Health Care America’s plush private London hospitals and clinics, are to ballot for strike action at the same time as UVW members at the huge Ministry of Justice HQ, and Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall, the wealthiest local council in Britain.

The cleaners – all migrants from Latin America and Africa whose labour helps keep London running – are the latest so called ‘unorganisable’ and ‘invisible’ workers to stand up for dignity and respect, and demand that their measley £7.83 per hour minimum wage be raised to at least the £10.20 an hour London Living Wage.

Migrant workers who clean the offices of the Bank of New York at Canary Wharf, and also the offices of the anti-migrant newspaper, the Daily Mail, recently organised in the UVW union, threatened to strike, and won their demands in record time.

These new and unprecedented simultaneous strikes have been sparked by the workers’ bosses – giant cleaning corporations that specialise in maximising profits by making workers pay for them with poor conditions and the lowest legally possible wages – refusing to offer even a penny more than the minimum wage.

Cleaners who do the vitally important tasks of maintaining Health Care America’s luxury private hospitals and clinics for the rich, at such illustrious addresses as Harley Street and the Shard, have been contracted out to Compass, which despite raking in revenues of £22 billion, do not provide the cleaners, who are especially vulnerable to illness, with any company sick pay scheme, or provide them with vital vaccinations against, for example, Hepatitis B, and even pays some cleaners below £7.83 per hour if they are under 25 years old.

The workers who clean the government’s huge Ministry of Justice building in Westminster are contracted out to OCS, a private firm that boasts a £1 billion turnover, but still refuses to pay their hard working staff a living wage – and can’t even manage to provide separate changing rooms for women and men.

In the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the politicians – despite having had a quarter of a billion pounds in reserve last year – tried to save even more money and handed over their cleaners to be paid the minimum wage by Amey, a contractor which despite ultimately being owned by a Spanish billionaire, still has difficulty understanding why its staff cannot afford to live in the same borough in which they work.

‘All of these migrant workers have had enough,’ UVW union organiser Petros Elia explains, ‘These fightbacks are emblematic of the inequality endured by all precarious and marginalised workers, not just in London, but all over Britain, and our members have shown great courage in standing up to the employers and their penny pinching clients to demand to be treated with respect.’

Elia continued: ‘Our members hope that their employers will see sense and agree that it is next to impossible to survive in one of the most expensive cities on the planet while working for poverty wages. But should the simultaneous strikes go ahead, the workers’ stand could have far reaching implications.’

‘Success at RBKC – winning a living wage – could lead to the same happening at Westminster council and at Hammersmith and Fulham council,’ Elia pointed out. ‘Together with RBKC, these councils signed a ‘Tri-borough’ agreement to share one single outsourcing service – a privatisation applauded by the Financial Times for cutting jobs and wages, but that could crumble in the face of our members winning their strike, and could also have a further knock on effect across other councils.’

‘Likewise, victory by the cleaners at the Ministry of Justice could lead to other government departments paying a Living Wage, instead of the miserly minimum wage, and a successful strike by UVW members at Health Care America will potentially encourage outsourced workers across the private and public health care sector to get the confidence to fight for dignity and fair pay,’ Elia concluded.

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Quotes from United Voices of the World union members at the workplaces involved in the unprecedented three strikes:

‘It is really hard to survive in London, you have to think about what you can and can’t buy, which bill to pay, it’s very difficult. I wanted to live near my work but it is impossible for me. I live in a room in an apartment with another family, that is how it is here.’
Mauricio, Kensington and Chelsea

‘I knew Kensington was a rich place, I thought because of this the work would be well paid, but it is difficult to live on the wages we have. I would ask the council with all respect that they understand why we are asking for a living wage. The misery wages they pay us oblige us to work more and more hours to earn more, but like this we cannot look after our children and we cannot live with dignity.’
Camila, Kensington and Chelsea

‘We are not just demanding fair pay, we need basic vaccinations, including Hepatitis B and Tetanus, which are being denied to us even though we regularly come in direct contact with bodily fluids including blood. These are luxury hospitals, why can’t we get what we need?’
Mercedes, Health Care America

‘Even though we are paid minimum wage, the company still tries to make us work harder and harder, doing more tasks and cleaning more and the company doesn’t send anyone to replace the workers who are sick or absent, and you have to add that work to yours. It is because they don’t even listen to us or treat us with respect that we have to strike. It is for this that we call this place the Ministry of Injustice.’
Luis, Ministry of Justice

*the names of the workers quoted have been changed to protect them from possible victimisation for speaking out.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION OF THE 3 SIMULTANEOUS STRIKES, AND TO REQUEST INTERVIEWS WITH WORKERS INVOLVED IN THE STRIKES, PLEASE CONTACT UVW:

07775 697605 or info@uvwunion.org.uk

 

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