Freedom News

UVW cleaners and NEU teachers in coordinated strike action

The outsourced cleaners at La Retraite Roman Catholic Girls’ School in south London will return to the picket line for the second time in three years. The action has been called following the school’s insistence at changing the cleaners’ working hours, which will result in many of them facing the sack as they already have other jobs for the proposed new time. Many have worked at the school for several years. 

“After many years working in that school in the schedule from 2.00pm to 5.30pm now the school wants to change our work schedule from 5.00pm to 7. Most of us cleaners would be forced to stop working at the school because many of us have other jobs we need to get to, which we need to pay our rent and food.”

Roberto Hernandez Díaz, cleaner at La Retraite and UVW member

Cleaning contractor SSL agreed to come up with an alternative proposal which the school leadership vetoed despite initially agreeing to it. La Retraite management walked out of the last consultation meeting within minutes, refusing to consult further, with three UVW members suspended and one dismissed.

Negotiations have broken down and the cleaners will join forces with striking NEU teacher members on the 5 and 7 July. One of the UVW cleaners has been dismissed without being allowed to work their notice and three others suspended for, we believe, their active role in trade union activities in their workplace.

The La Retraite cleaners are the eighth and latest group of UVW low-paid migrant workers to join the wave of strikes across the public and private sectors this summer. Seven other groups of UVW cleaners, carers and concierge workers held simultaneous and coordinated strike action across Greater London on the 13, 15 and 20 June.

“I see the change of schedule as unfair because other jobs we have would be greatly affected for the simple reason that we have already adapted the work and our schedules to make it all manageable for us and our families. Most of us have minor children and a change like this would be disastrous for us. We have been at the school for years and we’ve adapted our lives and multiple jobs to make our children’s lives as comfortable as possible.”

Montserrat Gallego, cleaner at La Retraite and UVW member


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