This is a major breakthrough after two years of campaigning for justice for cleaners. Workers directly employed by the City of London Corporation have been paid the London Living Wage, but the many workers hired indirectly through sub-contractors have remained second-class citizens on poverty pay.
IWGB has been waging a militant campaign at the Guildhall and Barbican Centre since July 2011 for the Living Wage, and for respect and dignity at work. The Corporation of London insisted it would not pay the Living Wage until contracts came to an end in late 2014.
On 21st March 2013 the day of the Common Council election to the Corporation of London, the IWGB held a strike of cleaners at the Barbican Centre. The first strike in the history of the Barbican.
On the evening of Saturday 4th May 2013, cleaners occupied the Barbican Centre in a militant protest bringing the place to a standstill. The IWGB supported by the PCS and the rail union RMT, held a large protest at the Barbican Centre on Saturday 8th June, 2:30 PM and addressed showing the Ken Loach film – Spirit of 45 – after being initially banned from speaking by the Barbican Centre.
The London Living Wage has been awarded to cleaners employed by MITIE, Sodexo and ISS. Five catering contracts have also seen a pay rise in line with the new London Living Wage. The cleaners are now receiving £8.80 per-hour the new London Living Wage, the pay rise has been backdated to 1st September 2013.
Chris Ford General Secretary of the IWGB said:
“Congratulations to the courageous workers at Barbican and Guildhall who have stood firm for so long in the face of such intimidation. This victory is an inspiration for all workers in London – lets now get justice this Christmas with the Living Wage at John Lewis, Royal Opera and Tower of London as well!”
Many sections of the Labour Movement have rallied to support the cleaners:
Chris Baugh, Assistant General Secretary of PCS said:
“A living wage for all cleaners at City of London Corporation is a marvellous victory. Congratulations and solidarity from PCS. You have shown how we can win a living wage for all workers and what is possible when workers stand together.”
John McDonnell MP said:
“This is a real breakthrough for our campaign for decent pay and conditions. Our next target is fast food restaurants.”
Steve Hedley Assistant General Secretary of RMT said:
“The MITIE cleaners organised by the IWGB have won a significant victory over the contractor MITIE. Securing the London Living Wage is a big step forward for impoverished cleaners at the sharp end of exploitation in the capital. We must now all redouble our efforts and end the contact system and demand all cleaners are directly employed with the security and benefits of other employees .”