Socialist Worker

Parliament's cleaners out to mop up resistance

by Kelly Hilditch
Issue No. 1961

Cleaners on strike for a living wage  (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Cleaners on strike for a living wage (Pic: Guy Smallman)

CONTRACT CLEANERS at the houses of parliament held a one day strike on Wednesday of last week.

They are campaigning over pay and conditions. The T&G union members clean the Commons and the Lords alongside cleaners directly employed by the House of Lords.

The cleaners who are directly employed receive better pay and conditions, earning £7.89 per hour, £2.89 an hour more than the contract cleaners. They also enjoy 30 days holiday and access to the staff pension scheme.

Nestor Barona is one of the contract cleaners who works in the House of Lords. “The campaign started back in February,” he says. “We want a decent wage, sick pay and holidays—as any worker deserves.

“Already over 90 percent of the cleaners are with the union, and several MPs have given their support to the campaign. But we need more than nice words.

“We wanted to strike before now, I’m not sure why we waited so long.

“Today is a brilliant start but we won’t be able to take any further actions until the end of the recess in October.

“Why aren’t all the cleaners treated the same? They try to blame the contractors, but who negotiates the contract?”

Barbara works as a cleaner at Millbank. She was out in solidarity with the cleaners at the houses of parliament.

She said, “This is a fight for better pay and conditions. It is wrong that the employer is allowed to treat people like this. If you fall ill it is important that you don’t have to choose between feeding your family and taking the time off to get better.

“When I reach pension age I want to be able to stop working, and I want to be able to live.”

Edward Hill cleans the House of Commons. He says, “I’ve been working here for four and a half years on pittance pay, so it’s really good that people are out on strike.

“Like a lot of people I have to work two jobs just to get by. It feels like I never stop.”

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Article information

Sat 30 Jul 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1961
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