All aboard! A bus load of cleaners, carers and concierge workers together with dozens of supporters, went on a whistle stop tour of five workplaces on strike, marking the first day of a three-day coordinated strike involving seven groups of workers!
These brave workers picketed the offices in large numbers and with jubilant dancing and chanting of the Department for Education, publishing powerhouse Ogilvy, the prestigious London School of Economics and Sage Nursing home. They wrapped up the day leafleting residents at West End Quays luxury apartments.
Tuesday 13 June was a day of joyful resistance as low-paid, precarious and migrant workers called for dignity, equality and respect. Specific demands included full sick pay, an end to outsourcing, £15 an hour, unsocial hours enhancements and more.
Refusing to be invisible, the UVW open-top double decker strike bus cut through the heart of the establishment in central London, gathering support along the way and in their local communities.
The strike day began outside the Department for Education at 8am, where cleaners are demanding parity with in-house civil servants, same sick pay, same holiday entitlements. Kadija, one of the brave strikers, told the crowd “We are mothers and grandmothers but they treat us like we are children”, she also said “Some of us have been working for the DfE for over 20 years. We want RESPECT!” Because collective action is a powerful tool for conquering hearts and minds, the strikers managed to persuade a fellow coworker to overcome their fear and join their picket line!
The strikers then headed off to the Sea Containers building on their open-to- double-decker bus, to support the striking night cleaners who clean the offices of Ogilvy there and are fighting for sick pay and a decent pay rise. The activists and supporters entered the building calling for negotiations and chanting “shame on you!”, they demanded that Ogilvy “Walk the talk!” and give the night cleaners full pay, sick pay and a decent wage to compensate them for the health risks associated with night work.
Third stop of the day was at the London School of economics, where cleaners are fighting for backdated holiday pay. “We keep them clean!” veteran UVW striker and cleaner Mildred said, as the Halls of Residence cleaners demanded that they are paid the holiday pay they are owed. These brave UVW cleaners are no strangers to strike action as six years ago in June 2017 UVW workers won a historic fight to end outsourcing and be brought in house.
The bus then went North went North to Sage Nursing, where there were expressions of solidarity from the community. Zack Polanski, the deputy leader of the Green party in England and Wales, told the crowd from atop the bus: “It’s not a cost of living crisis but an inequality crisis… low-paid migrant working class people are struggling… we will hold the millionaires to account. Collective solidarity will always win!” The care and domestic workers here want a pay rise, better rates for weekend and night work and an enhanced sick pay scheme because quality care deserves quality pay. Seasoned striker and senior care worker Bile, from Sage Nursing home in North London, had words of wisdom for his fellow workers : “UVW told us a lesson. Fight for your rights! We are human. We can feel the fear but overcome the fear. Fight! Together we win”! Standing in solidarity with his fellow strikers, Bille told the crowd he knew what the cleaners wanted because he had been one before.
Martin Abrams, a councilor from Streatham and Clapham, also turned up at the pickets in solidarity with the cleaners at Streatham and Clapham High School in his borough. He tweeted: “It’s time for these key workers to be brought in-house, provided with an inflation proof pay rise, sick pay & annual leave”
The final stop for the bus was West End Quayside, luxury apartment blocks in Central London where agency cleaners and concierge workers were seen breaking the strike to the consternation of supportive residents.
Franco, a concierge from West End Quays luxury apartments, who was on strike and at the pickets today said “We’ve been fighting for a long time for what we deserve”, he says. “We are here to protest!”
If you want to support these brave workers, you can DONATE and or SHARE their strike crowdfunder.
You can also JOIN their action group for updates on the campaign.and details of how to join a picket line.
Ge to know the workers and their demands here and SPREAD THE WORD!
Or send a letter of protest to their employers. Takes 1 minute!