London School of Economics

In a dispute and victory which was the first of its kind, outsourced cleaners at the London School of Economics, all of whom were BAME and primarily migrants, fought back against institutional racism and demanded to be made direct employees of the university. In what was then the biggest cleaners strike in UK history, these heroes became the first group of workers to force a British university to end the practice of outsourcing cleaners!


The London School of Economics is located in the City of Westminster. Admission is highly competitive, and alumni include George Soros, David Rockefeller, 18 Nobel Prize winners, 53 past/present heads of state, and 46 current Lords of Parliament. No other university outside the U.S. and India has educated more billionaires.

Alba, a cleaner at LSE for over a decade, was unfairly dismissed after rising to the ranks of Supervisor and then Office Administrator. UVW had already fought to reinstate three of her colleagues, and now sought justice for dozens of cleaners outsourced by LSE to Noonan Services, owned by a ruthless vulture investment firm. 

Strikes began in late 2016, highlighting the stark disparities (in pay, sick pay, paid leave, maternity pay and pensions) between outsourced and in-house staff, who also wore different uniforms.

The cleaners found their cause widely supported across campus, with the student-led Justice for LSE Cleaners campaign stepping up at every turn. UVWs’ slogan “We Are Not The Dirt We Clean” resonated with everyone who witnessed the seven days of strike action from March to June. David Lammy and Caroline Lucas (MPs) also lent support with an Early Day Motion and author and journalist Owen Jones agreed to pull out of a high profile event refusing to cross the picket line.

The striking cleaners, mostly black, brown and migrant, often had other cleaning commitments outside of LSE, but still managed to strike and many of their colleagues came to show solidarity. 

The last strike days coincided with end of year exams and featured flashmobs, salsa, zumba, poetry, art sessions, teach-outs. Eventually, and after 10 months of struggle, and the then largest cleaners strike in UK history and the highest number of stirek days of any group of outsourced workers in UK higher education – outsourcing was ended and all cleaners were brought in-house as LSE employees!




UVW successfully ended the outsourcing of cleaners at LSE.

The victory made UVW the first trade union to successfully end outsourcing at a British university!

Pay & T&C

and won complete parity in pay and T&Cs with in-house staff

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