Angry cleaning workers gathered outside Facebook headquarters in central London to protest against redundancies and dodgy pay deals on Friday.
Workers—who are outsourced by Facebook to a number of different companies—waved flags and signs that said “keep full contracts” and “we are key workers”.
They are fighting for Facebook to bring cleaning staff in-house and to demand fair contracts.
The workers, who are part of the Cleaners and Allied Independent Workers Union (CAIWU) blocked the road and banged pots.
The protest caused so much of an embarrassment to the social media giant that security were sent out to keep protesters from moving too close to the building.
Workers from outsourced companies Bidvest Noonan and JLL are battling those companies over job cuts, slashed hours and unfair contracts.
And now the action is spreading. Another group of workers from a third firm, To Go Micro Kitchens, have joined the fight.
Alex Sanchez is a cleaning worker for To Go at Facebook and he told Socialist Worker, “To Go are pressing us to change out contracts.”
“They are trying to get us to agree to zero hour contracts, these are dirty contracts. That would be unacceptable even if this wasn’t a pandemic.”
“They are taking advantage of people that can’t speak English and getting them to sign contracts when they don’t fully understand,” they said.
Bosses want to sack workers, and then reemploy them on new contracts for fewer hours and less pay .
Alex added that it is taking a toll on workers, “The pressure we all feel is terrible. We don’t know how much we are going to get paid or even if we’ll lose our jobs.”
They said that workers have been struggling against the outsourcer for years.
“To Go have never had our interests at heart. We’ve been fighting for two years to get a living wage from them.
“The London Living Wage was raised in November. We have been waiting for six months for our wages to go up. Every time it goes up they don’t give it to us and we have to fight back again.”
And workers are furious at the treatment they have received from bosses during the pandemic.
Members of the CAIWU have had to battle for Covid-19 protections in their workplace, and Alex said that management were messing around with the furlough scheme.
“We have received furlough but the company has taken us on and off it, switching between holiday pay and furlough—they want to get as much money as possible.”
Protest organisers say that Bidvest Noonan has sent out an email saying that they will no longer be engaging with the workers or their union.
The CAIWU is now going to mount a legal challenge against the firm.
Workers are being exploited by outsourcers and Facebook who want to make a profit from the Covid-19 crisis.
As one speaker at the protest said, “We know that Facebook needs cleaners. They are planning to build multiple new floors in their building. We know they have enough money.”
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