Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Cleaners fight back in the City

I work in the borough of Tower Hamlets, one of the poorest London areas. Generally I walk from my workplace, which takes me through parts of East End to the City. One minute poverty the next minute it is transformed to City opulence. The heart of banking and exploitation. While walking towards Lloyds HQ I heard whistling and banners being waved. The lively bunch were T&G members (with merger between the T&G and Amicus, from the 1st of May the name is now Unite) who are cleaners.

I just caught the tail end of the protest, as a fellow Unite member joined in to offer solidarity and chatted to some of the Justice for Cleaners activists. The company MacLellan is contracted to clean Lloyds yet it is the only cleaning company in London that is refusing to talk to the union. The cleaners earn minimum wage working unsocial hours, no sick pay and basic annual leave. Health and safety is non existent. And MacLellan won't recognise the union and if cleaners have joined the union they have been subjected to intimidation by the bosses.

MacLellan on their website states (using that patronising corporate language):

"MacLellan employees are encouraged to consider the values as part of their daily working lives and employees are regularly rewarded with 'Values In Action' certificates for consistently demonstrating company values".

Gee, how quaint, stick that certificate on the wall of the accomodation you can barely afford. I mean, who needs a living wage, terms and conditions and a recognised union when you have a piece of paper that demonstrates your reward for sticking to company values? These capitalist parasites take the piss! And I am sure their bloated shareholders do very nicely thank-you-very-much out of this utter exploitation.

There is another protest planned soon outside Lloyds HQ. Another is planned at Canary Wharf on the 23rd May 2007 from 3pm and more activities in June. I will keep comrades up-to-date with plans for protests.

(The pics on Indymedia are much much better than mine as it was taken on my rinky dinky Motorola Pebble..)


AN said...

But is the new union called Unite? Who decided?

The T&G pledged to ballot their members on the new name, and no such ballot has taken place.

I hope this is not a taste of things to come.

AN said...

BTW - it is realy good to see these low paid women being prepared to fight back.

Louisefeminista said...

I saw banners with Unite on and didn't know who they were initially...!! Rather embarrasing being a T&G member but nowt had been communicated to me about the name change and this 1st May thing.

I thought they were going to ballot members as well but seems they have made a unilateral decision.

So we have Unison, Unite, what next? Unify (so militant), Uniformed (my favourite), Unicycle (got potential)
So many to choose from...

AN said...

There already was a UNIFI (previously NUBE) that mergered with Amicus a few year back.

On the Solidarity blog, there is a piece about the name issue.

It looks like the T&G were bounced by Amicus.

There are still some good ones to pick.