Disproportionate workloads, questionable disciplinary procedures and indifference on the part of the company and the faculty regarding the requests of the workers. It is for these reasons that from 15th to 17th March this collective will strike in the London School of Economics.
Virginia Moreno Molina
Once more, the immigrants are the easiest targets of attack. And in a war of rights between companies, institutions and cleaners, they always lose.
On this occasion, the focus is on the Noonan company, the cleaners and the London School of Economics faculty (which prides itself on fighting inequality, but is not doing so in this case, according to the workers).
The Union Voices of the World (UWV) trade union, to which a large number of cleaners belong, is responsible for the organisation of the strike and making themselves heard under the motto “LSE cleaners strike: dignity and equality now!”.
However, according to a notice printed by Noonan, this union is not recognised by the company. Unison is the only union with which Noonan is prepared to conduct negotiations.
Although, perhaps the workers don’t have the right to choose their own representatives? Their petitions are fair and they are simply hoping to achieve the same rights as the rest of the employees.
The demands focus on 4 basic points and stress the necessity that the changes are made as soon as possible.
The first point is the sickness and accident benefit, which do not even cover the first 3 days of absence and for which they receive no pay. Only from the 4th day do they receive £88.45 per week. This means that if they were to miss work from Monday to Friday, they would only receive £35.38 in the first week.
On the other hand, the rest of the workers are paid from the first day, aside from other benefits they may receive if they have been working at the company for 5 years or more.
The second point is about the pensions which the immigrant cleaners receive. It has been reported that the Noonan company only contributes 1% of their annual salaries a year to their retirement funds. Meanwhile, the rest of the employees benefit from a 16% contribution.
The third point is regarding holidays, of which they receive the established amount of 28 days, including 8 public holidays. However, the rest benefit from a minimum of 41 payed days. In other words, 2 and a half weeks more than the cleaners contracted by Noonan.
Finally, the cleaners are disputing the limited maternity/ paternity/ adoption leave available to them. This is especially the case Also, the company pays women 90% of their salary for the first 6 weeks, and then £139.58 a week for the following 33 weeks.
In addition to the 4 points mentioned, the cleaners are requesting the reinstatement of Albo Pasmino, a colleague who was dismissed with only 2 days-notice after 12 years of service with Noonan.
A situation which reminds the SOAS and its workers of those who have been fighting for equal rights for many years and those who continue to do so.
Location: London School of Economics, Houghton St, London WC2A 2AE. Date: 15th to 17th March at 6:00 am. More information here.