A new campaign has been launched to improve working conditions for migrant cleaners and to tackle issues like low pay, discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace which cleaners say is rife in the cleaning industry.
New campaign “Cleaners United” has launched a huge listening campaign which is aiming to speak to at least 500 cleaners in the UK.
From the results of the campaign, Cleaners United will begin a national campaign to improve the working conditions of cleaners.
Cleaners United is a new national alliance of trade unions including Unite, PCS and IWGB, and community organisations that are working together to improve the working conditions of cleaners.
This labour community alliance is the first of its kind in the UK, with a diverse range of organisations working together for the first time.
In the UK, migrant cleaners account for a third of the cleaning workforce nationally and over half of the cleaning force in London. Many of these cleaners are Latino migrants. Despite being key workers, cleaners face some of the worst working conditions in the UK.
This listening campaign will last until the end of July.
Following that cleaners will be invited to decide the direction that the national campaign will take and to work together to challenge employers and the government to improve the working conditions of these key workers.
At the moment, the creators of the campaign are encouraging cleaners who would like to participate in the campaign to visit the Centre For Progressive Change (CPC) website.
Amanda Walters, Cleaners United Campaign director, says: “We know that migrant cleaners suffer from appalling working conditions and this campaign aims to support cleaners in their fight for respect and dignity in the workplace”.
“No one should –she says– have to go to work and expect to experience bullying and harassment, or such low pay that they cannot provide for their family, or a lack of basic work rights such as sick pay”. According to Walters the listening campaign will be the biggest of its kind and will ensure that cleaners’ voices are heard.
A 39-year old migrant cleaner from Tunisia who cleans the London Underground, explained that nobody appreciates the work they do.
“We work hard, unsociable hours, in dirty and hazardous conditions, but we find ourselves treated like second class citizens”, she says.
Therefore, this campaign should be a first step to ending the exploitation of cleaners.
“As cleaners we face bullying and harassment from managers, on top of having to do one of the dirtiest, worst paid, hardest and most unpleasant jobs. All the cleaning companies are the same; they exploit cheap labour, often migrant workers. They abuse and bully us. We’re doing more work due to job cuts, but there’s no extra money. This is modern slavery. Shame on the system who allows managers to threaten us with the sack if we speak out”, she explains.
Involved in the listening campaign include IWGB, PCS Union, Unite the Union Hotel Workers’ Branch, Focus of Labour Exploitation, Latin American Women’s Rights Service, Workers’ Rights Centre, English for Action, Work Rights Centre, POMOC, and East European Resource Centre.