09.05.2024 / Press releases /

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

  • Cleaners at the Department for Education (DfE) have voted unanimously to strike, returning a 100% yes vote
  • The first two days strike action will take place on are 11 and 12 June 2024
  • The outsourced 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 last 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 voted unanimously to strike. United Voices of the World (UVW), their trade union, has announced the first two days of strike action will be on 11 and 12 June 2024.

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 also been a considerable increase in workload over recent years due to cuts to staffing levels which is another issue of dispute. 

The cleaning contractor, ISS UK Limited (ISS), has refused to negotiate despite numerous invitations from UVW. 

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 feel we are treated with disdain, we are fed up and stressed but united in our resolve. ”

Helena Oduro-Afriyie cleaner of 18 years service at DfE said: 
“I’m suffering from arthritis in my leg, I have doctors’ notes the company knows. I’m supposed to do less jobs, but they keep on putting me to where they like. They are supposed to give us the London Living Wage, but they keep on postponing, postponing and it’s affecting us because we have to pay bills. The gas people are chasing us, electricity, water and everything. So in fact we are very desperate.”

Khadija Jalloh, cleaner for 24 years at DfE said:
“They don’t pay us properly, you have to pay your rent, take care of your children, the bus pass is almost £25 for a week, you have to buy this, you have to buy that. How are you going to survive with that kind of money? So we are really desperate we’re ready to do anything. We’re ready to fight for our rights.”

Petros Elia, general secretary of UVW union said:
“The cleaners at the Department for Education deserve equality of pay, terms and conditions and treatment. They deserve to be treated as equals. 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 through strike action and more, until they win what they need and deserve. ISS and the DfE can refuse to negotiate all they want but they will face the consequences of their choice. Let’s hope common decency and common sense prevail, but we won’t hold our breath.”

For further information contact the UVW comms team.

Isabel: 07706 987443
Cristina: 07548 759340

Jim: 07749 765264 


About UVW

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.


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