TELL THE TRUTH AND SHAME THE DEVIL is the old saying and in that tradition this statement from St Georges, Univeristy of London Cleaners should be widely circulated: “We, the cleaners at St George’s are writing to inform you that the stories that UNISON are spreading about the cleaners at St George’s are lies. I am sure you were not aware of this, though.
UNISON did not win us the London Living Wage. In fact we won it not because of UNISON, but in spite of UNISON.
We are members of the IWW union. Only one of our colleagues is with UNISON. We are not represented by UNISON. The IWW, an independent union that’s managed by its members on a voluntary basis, has been with us right from the start. They represent us, and they won us the LLW.
3 months ago Ocean, the company to which St George’s outsources its services, told us that some of us would be losing our jobs, all of us would be losing hours, and all of us would be kept on the poverty minimum wage which we have been on for years. UNISON has never spoken to us or tried to help us get the LLW.
Without hesitation the IWW said no to the redundancies, no to the cuts in hours and furthermore demanded the LLW. Once Ocean realised that the IWW weren’t going to be either pliant or quiescent and accept these brutal changes, they gave sole recognition to UNISON (with it’s 1 member!), whilst simultaneously refusing to talk to our union, the IWW. How can Ocean negotiate with a union that doesn’t represent the workers?
The reason is obvious. As someone commented before, UNISON has been there for years and never fought for the LLW – so obviously Ocean felt more “comfortable” with UNISON.
The IWW organised a petition that got over 300 signatures, wrote to every staff member at St George’s, leafleted the campus, staged a protest (which UNISON explicitly sabotaged), got an EDM tabled in Parliament signed by 5 MPs, and launched a huge publicity campaign involving London Citizens, the Wandsworth Guardian and the New Statesman, among others.
Out of respect for us, the cleaner’s at St George’s, and the hard work we put into stopping the redundancies, stopping the cuts to our hours and getting the LLW, we ask you to promptly and publicly correct this gross distortion of the truth.
This is not a wholesale condemnation of UNISON. They have done great work in many places. But I can assure you that they have not helped us at St George’s!
Cleaners at St George’s.