The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 9th June 2017

HSBC cleaners strike over job cuts

THE HSBC tower at Canary Wharf in east London is huge and very visible for miles around. There’s a lot of glass to polish, a lot of stairs to sweep and rubbish bins to empty. It’s one of London’s most prestigious addresses, home to HSBC, one of the world’s leading banks.

They have plenty of money. But not enough, apparently, to pay to keep the glass polished, the stairs swept and the bins emptied — because 10 of the bank’s cleaners are about to lose their jobs,and ISS won’t even recognise the Cleaners and Allied Independent Workers Union (CAIWU) as their official trade union.

So the cleaners have been on strike last Tuesday to fight against the redundancies, due to be imposed this month, and for trade union rights.

Workers, who are employed by the ISS cleaning company contracted to HSBC to keep its building clean, have been campaigning and balloting for strike action throughout May.

ISS has offered workers the opportunity to apply for voluntary redundancy, despite the company’s future plans for the site not having been made available to them in writing.

The proposed restructuring is expected to take place this month, leaving the cleaners little time to assess their options and make a decision that will significantly affect their futures.

Many of the affected cleaners are members of CAIWU and have approached the union for support in facing the proposed cuts. But ISS has so far refused to give CAIWU official recognition despite 18 of their staff being members. ISS’s decision has left these workers to face the challenges of restructuring without formal representation.

In May the workers held a noisy protest outside the building. Leader of the CAIWU chapel at HSBC, Alberto Burango, said that ISS was planning to cut 10 full-time day workers and leave approximately 15 remaining cleaners to pick up their work.

He said: “They say they will only recognise Unite, but all of the workers are in our union. No-one is in Unite.

“It’s human beings against profit. I’m sure HSBC has more than enough money to pay its cleaners.”

He added: “People around Canary Wharf have been very supportive of our protest. Everyone is suffering cuts all around so they support what we are doing. Workers need to get together and fight back.”