Cleaners, some of Britain’s lowest paid workers, are stepping up their campaign for decent wages and conditions — and they have already forced one set of bosses to negotiate.
Cleaners were due to hold a picket outside Deutsche Bank in London on Wednesday of last week. But this was changed when the bank agreed to hold talks with the union over pay and conditions.
Deutsche Bank reported record profits of £674 million in the last quarter. Yet they pay their cleaners just £5.25 an hour with no sick pay or pension. They are demanding £6.70 an hour.
Deutsche Bank’s highest paid director received £6.8 million last year — 623 times a cleaner’s wage.
Because Deutsche Bank offered talks, the cleaners protested outside the offices of the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) who are still refusing to speak with the union over pay.
Cleaners from T&G union living wage campaigns in Canary Wharf, the houses of parliament and Deutsche Bank came along to support the RBS cleaners.
Dennis works as a cleaner for London Underground. He said, “The cleaners for the tube aren’t in dispute at the moment but I wanted to come along and show my support.
“We need solidarity between all cleaners across London. We are all treated badly and we all deserve a wage that will allow us to do more than just survive.”
One of the cleaners from Deutsche Bank, Ivo Dalmina said, “People are being exploited. When you are sick you do not get paid properly and then you don’t have money to eat or to pay the rent.”
Bennedita Goncalves works at the RBS. She said, “We work from ten in the evening until six in the morning.
“We are employed through an agency called Lancaster. What happens is that the people at the very top treat the people below them badly, so the people below them treat the people below badly, and so it continues.
“One of the women who cleans the RBS building suffers from terrible back pain which is made worse by the type of work we do.
“She hasn’t been able to work for two months now. She has no money for rent and no money for food. When I last spoke to her she was relying on the kindness of her landlord and friends until she was well enough to come back to work.
“This is no way to treat people. We have to fight for a decent wage, but also for basic rights like sick pay.”
The cleaners at the houses of parliament were due to strike on Wednesday of this week.