Cleaners at the London School of Economics (LSE) have announced that they will be going on strike on the 15th and 16th of March, in order to protest the poor pay and working conditions at the university.
The cleaners, who are members of the trade union United Voices of the World (UVW), returned a historic 100% yes vote for strike action. The strike will be the first by cleaners or outsourced workers in the 126-year history of the LSE.
The LSE and its cleaning firm Noonan have refused to meet the cleaners’ demands for equality, a reduction of their unsustainable workloads, a review of disciplinary procedures and the reinstatement of an unlawfully sacked colleague.
MPs have signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) supporting the cleaners’ campaign and calling on the LSE to meet their demands.
According to Petros Elia, UVW General Secretary:
“The LSE and their cleaning contractor Noonan have had ample opportunity over the last six months to agree to a timescale for implementing the cleaners’ perfectly reasonable demands. Instead they have arrogantly denied that there is a problem and refused to come forward with an offer of an alternative settlement to the dispute.
“Because of this, the cleaners quite rightly decided that enough was enough and made the difficult decision to ask their union to ballot them for strike action.
“The historic 100% vote for the strike is a clear sign of the deep anger felt by the cleaners at being treated as second class workers. They are courageously taking this action despite bullying and intimidation by Noonan management who have victimised several of our members for taking part in the campaign. This victimisation has taken place with the full knowledge of the LSE itself.
“Our simple message to the LSE is this: you claim to value the work of the cleaners and you say that the LSE is a “catalyst for positive societal impact”. So what is preventing you from ensuring that the cleaners get the same terms and conditions as their colleagues?
“It’s time that the LSE started to try and live up to its supposed reputation. This utter contempt for those who clean the university’s corridors, lecture halls and canteens must end.”
Mildred Simpson, a cleaner who has worked at the LSE for 16 years, said:
“We are all the same workers but we, the cleaners, are treated so badly. Why are we different from the other LSE staff? The LSE should treat its workers like they are one, not divide them and treat us like we are different.
All we are fighting for is equality and for justice; for us, the cleaners, to get the same as the rest of the LSE staff.”
LSE’s annual turnover is approximately £300 million. It’s director’s annual pay package is worth upwards of £400,000.