Cleaners at the London School of Economics (LSE) university began a 48-hour strike today, Wednesday. They are fighting for equal pay, terms and conditions with people employed directly by the university.
The cleaners—some 250 workers—are employed by Noonan Services Group and represented by the United Voices of the World (UVW) union. But the firm refuses to negotiate and does not recognise the union.
Workers are also out in solidarity with Alba Pasmino, who was sacked after bosses pushed through reorganisation of job roles.
Alba told Socialist Worker, “I’m without a job because of these people. My husband had a stroke in May last year and it’s just me looking after the both of us.
“I have a part-time job some evenings but it’s not enough.”
Alba was dismissed after she complained about staffing cuts. And everyone has a similar story about ever-increasing workloads.
“We used to have eight people on one team, then Noonan cut the team to five people,” one worker told Socialist Worker.
The university should bring cleaners in-house on equal terms to other workers. But it has turned its back on them. It does negotiate with the Unison union, which represents workers employed directly by the university.
“The LSE and Noonan give us nothing,” said Mildred. “We only get 20 days holiday. They don’t recognise our union. We’re striking for sick pay and reduced workloads as well.”
“We’re treated badly,” Oliver told Socialist Worker. “We don’t have a place to change our clothes, and the workload is too much.”
“When we go back I think management will make it hard, giving extra problems and extra stress,” said Danzalee.
“Some people think that if you go on strike, you will be fired. Other LSE workers support us and give us a secret thumbs up, but if they come out they will be fired.”
Cleaners want people to support their fight by coming down to the picket line and donating to their strike fund.
But, as striker Danzalee points out, this is more about more than just money, “It’s about being treated fairly and equally. It’s about respect."