Cleaners employed by outsourcing firm Noonan at the LSE university on Wednesday continued their strike for equal pay and conditions as workers employed directly by the LSE. Cleaners currently get the statutory minimum sick pay of just £83.95 a week for a maximum of 28 weeks.
The members of the United Voices of the World (UVW) union marched from their picket line to the picket of striking security guards at Senate House in Bloomsbury. The security guards are out against the use of zero hour contracts by the employer, University of London, and for pay increases that were promised six years ago.
“It’s been another successful day,” UVW general secretary Petros Elia told Socialist Worker on Wednesday. “Our message to management was made loud and clear. We will not give up until our demands are met.
Outsourcing firm Noonan said in a letter to cleaners, “May we again take this opportunity to respectfully ask you not to participate in strike action as it will damage the reputation of LSE, have an adverse impact on our service provision and a knock-on effect on students, employees and visitors to LSE.”
But Noonan and the LSE management have damaged the university’s reputation by refusing to negotiate with the cleaners. Noonan have accused cleaners on the picket line of breaching the Code of Practice on Picketing, a claim which is false.
And the workers’ message is starting to get traction in the mainstream press. Journalist Owen Jones refused to cross the picket line on Wednesday, and other academics have joined the boycott.
Noonan Services Group can afford to pay the cleaners a decent wage. Last year the firm posted a pre-tax profit of over £9 million.
“The cleaners have shown what is possible,” said Petros. “Regardless of your background or experience you can get organised.
“You don’t have to be a hardened activist to take militant action. Our members are an inspiration.”
Donate to the cleaners’ strike fund here https://www.uvwunion.org.uk/justiceforlsecleaners/