The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain
Week commencing 14th September 2018

Cleaners’ strikes spread after victory in Kensington & Chelsea

by New Worker correspondent

CLEANERS working at Kensington & Chelsea town hall are celebrating a promise that they will get a pay rise and will be paid the London Living Wage.

The United Voices of the World (UVW) union said last Tuesday that the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea (RBKC) had agreed to pay its cleaning staff a London Living Wage of £10.20 per hour from January 2019, instead of their current legal minimum wage of £7.83 per hour.

The UVW said that the Tory council leader Elizabeth Campbell and chief executive Barry Quirk said that the council would also look at early termination of a 10-year contract with the cleaners’ employer, Amey, and would try to get a retrospective pay rise staring from October.

The UVW organised three strike ballots, all with 100 per cent yes votes, started a fourth ballot, and carried out co-ordinated strikes over three days at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the RBKC.

Dozens of local labour movement activists joined the pickets at Kensington and the MoJ, including the new Labour MP for Kensington Emma Dent-Coad and shadow justice minister Richard Burgon.

Emma Dent-Coad told the strikers: “Solidarity with the employees of Amey to RBKC. Your determination (and a bit of salsa) has earned you an impressive victory. Now we fight for justice at the Ministry of Justice! Respect,” and Richard Burgon said it was “an absolute scandal that you are not being paid £10.20 an hour.

“£7.83 an hour is the legal minimum they can get away with paying you. They should value you more than that.”

On 23rd August, UVW also announced it would be joining forces with the PCS union in a strike for a London Living Wage for “cleaners, security and all outsourced and support staff” at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

A statement from the unions said: “The UVW and PCS union members at the MoJ and BEIS HQ are coming together for a joint rally and call out to their respective Secretaries of State to intervene and pay up!”, followed by a march from the MoJ to the BEIS.

The rally was joined by Labour front bench members Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and shadow BEIS minister Rebecca Long-Bailey.