28.03.2024 / Press releases /

Cleaners at the Department of Education launch strike ballot over equality

  • Cleaners who clean the Department for Education (DfE) have instructed their union to launch strike ballot
  • The cleaners, members of United Voices of the World (UVW) trade union, demand parity of terms and conditions with civil servants.
  • ISS UK Limited have failed to respond directly to the cleaners demands. 
  • Cleaners at the department took three days of strike action over the summer as part of a mass strike by UVW members demanding dignity, equality and respect

The cleaners working at the Department for Education (DfE)’s Sanctuary Buildings have today instructed their union, United Voices of the World (UVW), to launch a ballot for industrial action.

Despite working in the DfE’s buildings, the cleaners get worse annual leave, and sick pay entitlement than the civil service workers they clean-up after. There has been a considerable increase in workload over recent years due to cuts to staffing levels. The cleaners are demanding appropriate staffing levels.

The cleaning contractor, ISS UK Limited (ISS), has refused to negotiate following numerous attempts by UVW over the cleaners’ demands for a living wage, equal sick pay and annual leave with civil service workers and appropriate staffing levels.

Gloria Mancera, cleaner of 18 years service at DfE, said “In my 18 years as a cleaner at DfE I’ve never experienced such terrible treatment. No sick pay, too much work, no proper holiday cover. We are treated with disdain and we are fed up and stressed but united in our resolve. We can’t wait for our ballot papers.”

A UVW official said The cleaners at Sanctuary building deserve the same entitlement to family life as any other DfE colleague, they deserve to address their health needs as they arise, they should not have to work through sickness because they can’t afford not to work. The DfE cleaners deserve to feel valued and they deserve dignity, respect and above all equality with the civil servants, their suit wearing counterparts. It is unconscionable that in 2024 a Government department is being run by a two tier workforce where the mainly Black, brown and migrant cleaners are treated like second class citizens. UVW is an anti-racist union and we will back the courageous DfE cleaners all the way”

For more information contact the UVW comms team.

Jim: 07749 765264
Cristina: 07548 759340
Isabel: 07706 987443


Notes for editors

United Voices of the World is an anti-racist, member-led, direct action, campaigning trade union and we exist to support and empower the most vulnerable groups of precarious, low-paid and predominantly BAME and migrant workers in the UK. We fight the bosses through direct action on the streets and through the courts and demand that all members receive at least the London Living Wage, full pay, sick pay, dignity, equality and respect.


  1. Increase in wages to £13.15 per hour, backdated to October 2023.
  2. Civil service parity: Sick pay entitlement
  3. Civil service parity: Annual leave entitlement 
  4. Appropriate staffing levels: As a minimum, 2 cleaners stationed on each floor for each shift. 
  5. Voluntary trade union recognition

More information on the strike over the summer:


09.07.2024 / Press releases / /

Strike action averted as Government cleaners and caterers reach a deal

02.07.2024 / Press releases

AI moderation silences migrant cleaners’ union, shuts down Facebook and X/Twitter accounts

18.06.2024 / Press releases

Cleaners at Dulwich private school to ballot for strike action

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04.06.2024 / Press releases /

Strippers sue bosses at “London’s premier club” over stolen wages and trade union victimisation

17.05.2024 / Press releases

Cleaners declare ¡VICTORIA! at private school in South London

09.05.2024 / Press releases

Migrant cleaners at Department for Education to strike for equality in June


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