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Reports round up: UEL university cleaners fight for dignity at work

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Issue 2694
Cleaners protest outside the University of East London
Cleaners protest outside the University of East London (Pic: Miriam Scharf)

Over 30 cleaners at the University of East London (UEL) staged a loud, vibrant protest on Tuesday.

The Caiwu union members are fighting against rising workloads, low pay, cuts to holidays and other issues. Placards and banners read, “We are not the dirt we clean”, and, “Clean up UEL outsourcing.”

One cleaner, Carlos, said they had been trying for a long time to get subcontractor Nviro to talk to them.

Luz, a Caiwu organiser, had been talking to the cleaners every week for three months about their grievances. She said cleaners didn’t have the confidence to act until they saw the UCU university union’s strikes.

After that workers were saying, “We are not alone.”

Alberto, another Caiwu organiser, said, “We will do everything we can to win this campaign.

“With workers solidarity I’m sure we are going to win.”

UCU striker Gargi addressed the protest, saying, “We are all suffering from precocity and being treated like rubbish all round”.

She told Socialist Worker, “This protest at our picket line has raised our spirits and shown that solidarity exists amongst university staff from cleaners to professors.

“When we are not sectionalised we all win.”

It was a clearly a huge boost to both groups and shows the way the UCU strikes can be a focus for anger against austerity and the bosses.

Miriam Scharf

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Traffic wardens will act in Ealing tragedy

Traffic wardens in Ealing, west London, launched an eight-day walkout for higher pay on Thursday of last week.

Unite union members are angry over a “botched and unjustified” redundancy programme by bosses at Serco.

The outsourcing giant manages the service on a contract to the Labour-run council. Unite suspended a strike planned for the end of January after Serco removed the threat of compulsory redundancies from the new structure.

But the union says “it then transpired” that traffic wardens would still be expected to work longer hours and do more tasks without any increase in the holiday entitlement. Unite regional officer Clare Keogh said, “Feelings are running very high among our members who believe they have no choice but to strike.

“It is inevitable that the strike will result in severe disruption on Ealing’s already over congested roads.

“But this is a result of Serco’s high-handed action which is negatively impacting our members’ lives.”

Bin fight in Tower Hamlets

Around 250 bin workers in Tower Hamlets, east London, are preparing for a week-long strike over pay from Monday of next week.

Unite union members are demanding that bosses at subcontractor Veolia, which manages the service for the Labour-run council, gives them “substantial” holiday pay arrears.

Electric win in Sandwell 

Electricians for Sandwell council, in the West Midlands, have won higher pay—after threatening a week-long strike.

Unison, GMB and Unite union members were set to strike from Monday until management promised to put electricians onto a higher grade at the eleventh hour.

Tony Barnsley, Sandwell Unison branch secretary, said, “Our members were solid and determined to win the better grade that will see their pay eventually rise by £5,000. Unity in action can secure victories.”

No cheers from Greene King staff

Fermenting anger over pay at Greene King could spill over into strikes next week.

Delivery, production and warehouse workers at the brewing giant are set to strike for 48 hours from Monday of next week. Bosses’ 2 percent pay offer was too hard to swallow.

The Unite union members work in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, Abingdon in Oxfordshire and Eastwood in Nottinghamshire.

Campaign victory in Stoke-on-Trent

A campaign by carers in Stoke-on-Trent has forced the council to axe pay cuts.

Unison and GMB union members staged a protest to stop cuts to extra pay for working weekends and unsocial hours. Under pressure from the unions, councillors voted down the plan.

Keep private hands off Northern Rail

The RMT union and passenger groups campaigned on Monday to demand the government keeps Northern Rail public following the collapse of the private franchise.

On 1 March Northern Rail was taken into public control.

But a forthcoming government review could move it back into the failed private rail sector.

Pressure on Salford council gets result

Salford care workers and supporters held a lobby last week before the council’s budget meeting to demand more money for those who deliver social care.

The mayor announced that as a result of the Unison union’s campaign all Salford care workers will receive at least £9 an hour from October.

Scottish firefighters say no to pay deal

Firefighters in Scotland have rejected a pay offer that would have led to them taking on significant areas of health and social care work.

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