Report by a member of the London IWW General membership Branch about the IWW Cleaners’ protest at John Lewis on Saturday 23 June:
On Saturday 23 June over a hundred people attended a demonstration organised by the IWW Cleaners’ Branch in front of the John Lewis flagship store on Oxford Street. John Lewis prides themselves in caring for the well-being of their employees and sharing the profits of the company with them. Unfortunately, through outsourcing the company frees itself from this commitment with its cleaning staff.
Employed through a contractor, the cleaners are on the minimum legal wage of £6.08 per hour. They are threatened with 50% of redundancies with the remaining staff potentially covering all additional work. The workers cannot tolerate this. They demand the London Living Wage of £8.30 per hour. They say ‘no’ to redundancies and ‘no’ to increase in their workload. The protest on Saturday was called to make these demands as well as making the public aware of the dismal work conditions prevailing for cleaners in this company that so prides itself of its corporate responsibility.
A crowd of workers as well as people in solidarity turned up and made a lot of noise in front of the store for two hours. There were speeches from the members of the IWW Cleaners Branch, representatives of other IWW branches, other unions including PCS and RMT, and a Labour MP John McDonnell.
The strength of the union is the strength of the workers coming together to put pressure on the bosses. Today’s demonstration, with its large crowd and energetic atmosphere was a great show of strength. The workers are balloting for strike action at John Lewis and will continue with weekly demonstrations until their demands are met.
Another photo report can be found by clicking here (Demotix).