The cleaners voice (2011)

January 1, 2011

The cleaners voice (2011)

Performance, activism and migration

Following a short and successful campaign last year the VC announced in November that the University of East London (UEL) would sign up to the London Living Wage (LLW). This ensured that contract cleaning staff, hitherto paid just above minimal wage, would be paid a Living Wage: the minimum amount required to be able to afford to live and work in London as calculated by the Greater London Authority. This currently stands at £7.85 per hour but is rising to £8.30 later this year.

We are now calling on the VC to take the cleaning staff back in house. The reason for this is twofold: first a report carried out by the UEL branch of Unison, supported by the Hidden Workforce Unit in Unison, found widespread evidence of non-payment and late-payment of contract staff; it found evidence of staff be asked to undertake duties in reduced hours and, as consequence, it found widespread evidence of a demoralised workforce. This is inconsistent with UEL’s commitment to the development of an outstanding workforce. 

As there is no guarantee that the same problems would not arise again with a new contractor, we think that UEL should step in here and employ the cleaning staff directly. Secondly, there is ample evidence in the well documented experience of Queen Mary University of London that taking the cleaning staff back in house not only leads to improved morale and a better standard of service but real savings in the mid to long term. 

For these reasons we call on the VC to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the end of the current contract to take the cleaning staff back in-house.

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