Cleaners at the London School of Economics (LSE) university have won an impressive victory. The outsourced workers had been striking to demand equal pay and conditions to workers employed directly by the university.
The campaign has lasted some ten months.
Cleaners have won all their demands and are set to be employed directly by the LSE from the spring of 2018, if workers agree the deal.
The deal includes six months sick pay at full pay and six months at half pay. The statutory minimum, which cleaners are currently on, is £89.35 a week for 28 weeks.
Other details include 41 days annual leave plus employer pension contributions of up to 13 percent of the cleaners’ salary.
The United Voices of the World (UVW) union had no members at the university a year ago.
Now the majority of trade unionists among the cleaners are members. And people’s ideas have changed through the struggle.
Petros Elia is general secretary of UVW. He told Socialist Worker, “One of the most important features of this dispute has been that none of the cleaners had a background in trade unionism at the outset.
“There was a lot of fear and uncertainty but they still managed to get organised.”
The new deal, which UVW union members have yet to vote on, will have a transformative effect on peoples’ lives.
Workers had previously told Socialist Worker they work when sick because they couldn’t afford to take time off.
The deal follows news that the UCU lecturer’s union branch at the LSE voted to support the cleaners’ strike.
Other UCU branches had already voted in support, as well as the national union at its annual conference.
A fortnight ago university management offered the cleaners’ union half of its demands.
The current deal on the table is a serious improvement on that.
Significantly, outsourcing firm Noonan Services Ltd was not represented at that meeting.
Neither was the Unison union, which claims to represent the workers.
The victory shows that if you fight, you can win big.
The cleaners, largely migrants, have also shown that it doesn’t matter what your background is?if you fight you can push up pay and conditions for everyone.
As Petros said, “We were fragmented at the start, but determination and anger turned into organisation.”