La Retraite Roman Catholic Girls’ School employs 26 cleaners through the outsourcing company Ecocleen, the majority of whom are members of UVW.
Members work 2-3 hours a day, on minimum wage and all the other statutory terms and conditions. Workers joined UVW in the autumn of 2020, where 6 weeks of pressure brought their pay up to £10 an hour. However, the school also requested a decrease in cleaning hours – from 46 weeks a year to 43 weeks. This decrease in hours means they are still £150 worse off a year.
We are demanding full pay sick pay and the London Living Wage. As the Covid-19 pandemic has proven over and over again, essential personnel such as cleaners are vital to keeping schools like La Retraite safe for teachers and children.
Like all of our outsourcing disputes, we are demanding parity of terms and conditions with in-house support staff workers. It is wrong that our members, who are majority BAME and migrants, provide essential services to La Retraite but are ignored, mistreated and on worse terms and conditions then all the other staff they work alongside.
We are reporting La Retraite to the Equality and Human Rights Commission on the basis of indirect racial discrimination and for a breach of Public Sector Equality Duty.
Since the beginning of the winter lockdown, we have had two members with confirmed cases of Covid-19, two with symptoms awaiting results and two with symptoms waiting to get a test. We estimate that 25% of the cleaning staff at La Retraite have or are suspected to have Covid-19 between December 2020 and January 2021. We would describe this as nothing short of an outbreak.
Prior to the christmas holidays in 2020, members used Section 44 of the ERA 1996 to walk off the job. La Retraite has had high levels of Covid-19 cases circulating the school – with the whole of Year 11 being sent home in December 2020. Our members are in charge of cleaning the school and keeping a safe and sanitised environment for the children to learn – their safety must be put first.
Neither the employer or outsourcing company has carried out a risk assessment in consultation with the workers. There has been no updated risk assessment without consultation either.
The ballot to strike begins on January 25 2021: watch this space and see you on the picket line!
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