Members of CAIWU in London have been striking for better working conditions recently across a number of sites. Complaints made by cleaners have included a lack of sick pay, massive workloads and high reductions in staff; cleaners are often not afforded breaks and are given dismal wages. Alongside this, those who organise as union representatives are often being dismissed with no reasonable grounds- clear attempts to quieten them. In particular workers at Google have been protesting this month, following from a series of other protests in the recent months at Aviva, WeWork, and Estée Lauder. Protests outside of the offices of these mega-companies are causing a small stir in the press, but are making strides for significant change across the industry. Whilst mainly focused in London, the movement is beginning to spread through the cleaning industry as workers are demanding better rights in the workplace.
The issues faced by these workers is the complete opposite of the image that these companies so publicly flaunt- think Google’s infamous self-driving cars and office slides. It has led to the term ‘two-tier workforce’ being coined to reflect how the workers of these companies receive a range of luxuries that are maintained and supplied by the contractors they employ who receive none of the same benefits. This may seem like old news- it is hardly unheard of for cleaners to be treated worse than other employees- but that does not mean that we should allow major corporations to act benevolent whilst treating employees as second-class citizens.
Whilst this is definitely caused by these large companies- who it is easy to attribute blame to considering the hundreds of billion in their bank accounts- we can’t forget how the smaller cleaning companies themselves are trading their staff’s rights for big contracts. It is down to the cleaning companies to ensure their staff have the appropriate equipment, time, and support to carry out their jobs.
At Ikon, we are dedicated to championing worker’s rights and make our expectations clear to any potential client. We ensure all employees are paid the living wage regardless of age, as we believe that same work = same pay. We appreciate that cleaning is a low-wage industry and try to accommodate for the needs of our workers with wage subsidies when needed, and have provided interest free loans to help get them on their feet. We also arrange for our employees to have access to staff kitchens for tea/coffee during work. This may seem like the most basic of steps to take but too few cleaners are afforded any rights in their workplace.
We support the strikes being carried out by the CAIWU and hope to build a better industry with more rights for cleaners- which will benefit both staff and customers in the long run!
For more information, and to join CAIWU please visit: http://caiwu.org.uk/wp/