THE CAMPAIGN CONTINUES: JUSTICE FOR CLEANERS SOAS

by Justice for Cleaners SOAS

The Justice for Cleaners SOAS campaign is led by the cleaning staff at SOAS, with the support of students and university staff. The cleaners campaign began in 2006, and in 2008 won decent London living wage. Last year, after a series of strikes, the campaign won their demands for sick pay, holiday pay, and pensions.

However, the campaign has not yet won their key demand of the cleaning staff, which is to be brought back in house (to work directly to SOAS instead of a subcontractor). Since the early 1990s SOAS cleaners have been subcontracted by a succession of private companies, all of which have been allegations of victimization and intimidation of the cleaning staff, including persecution of the J4C campaigners and trade union representatives, and through attempts to undermine working conditions.

Now, after the cleaning staff have won sick pay, holiday pay, and pensions, the company is threatening to remove the sickness paid, is threatening to introduce zero hours contracts, is exploiting the immigration status of some workers, and a sign of obstruction in its relations with union representatives. It is clear that the terms and conditions achieved by the victory of the campaign J4C at SOAS are not safe while cleaners are outsourced, since private companies always try to cut costs by undermining working conditions and victimize workforce . The cleaning staff are demanding to be brought back in house to be treated with dignity and respect.

jfc

Two years ago in response to the incredible activism of the J4C campaign and a referendum in which 98.2% of participants of SOAS community voted to for the cleaners to be brought back in house, SOAS management said it would create a shared service with Senate House and Birkbeck and not employ a private service . However, this proposal made by SOAS management is not going to be fulfilled, therefore we have to re-launch the campaign Justice for Cleaners. This is to ensure that if SOAS is not going to create the shared service promised, then they will have to bring the cleaners in house instead of keeping a company subcontracted which victimizing and intimidating members of our community on our campus.

Here is an explanation from the ISS Unison newsletter (their trade union) on what the campaign is and why we are doing it:

SOAS UNISON (and SOAS STUDENTS UNION!) believes that the work done by staff currently working for ISS is as vital and important to the running of the School as that done by any other directly employed member of staff. We have campaigned for many years for all staff to be directly employed by the University and that contracted out staff should be brought back in house with the same benefits and to be treated with dignity and respect as everyone.

VICTIMISATION: In addition to being undervalued and treated as a second class worker, our cleaners are continuously harassed, victimised and bullied by the ISS managers. Some of the testimonials are heart-breaking. You will be able to hear them soon read by students as the workers cannot risk their jobs by speaking out against the company.

SOAS IS ONE COMMUNITY… or is it?

The SOAS mission statement includes the clause:

‘Each member of the School community is responsible for preventing unfair discrimination or harassment or victimisation which it is within their control to prevent; and challenging or reporting such in appropriate behaviour if it occurs.’

This fight has not just begun. It began years ago with the London Living Wage Campaign, sick paid, holiday paid and pensions campaign  the cleaners are now paid the LLW and mayor improvement in sick paid, holiday paid and pensions but continue victims of injustice and exploitation,  In addition to this, they are mistreated and are terrified of losing their jobs. They feel alone and they are victimised. They need our support.

We have the power to show ISS and SOAS that a wage, sick paid, holiday paid and pension is not everything. ALL SOAS workers deserve RESPECT and DIGNITY and the right to live without FEAR and with EQUAL benefits as other SOAS staff. We have the opportunity to help change the lives of our cleaners, who form a part of our SOAS community, the community that SOAS wants for 2020: SOAS is one community. Let´s show SOAS how to make it ONE community.

How can we continue to accept that our university, an upstanding institution which claims to represent justice and equality as it ignores the plight of the cleaners, the MOST VULNERABLE members of our community?

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?

It´s easy.

  • DEMONSTRATE
  • SUPPORT the cleaners with just ONE CLICK on the Facebook page

At the same time we will be putting pressure on both the company ISS and SOAS to recognise the suffering and stress inflicted on our cleaners

  • VOLUNTEER

This campaign IS student led so if you want to be more involved, please get in touch. We need you. If you have a little bit of time to give, it would be greatly appreciated. Please keep an eye on the Facebook page for OPEN MEETING dates.

Peace and solidarity. Thank you for reading.

Gmail:  soasj4c@gmail.com |Twitter: @SOAS4C

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