19 July 2012
On Friday 13 July, the first strike in the history of the John Lewis Partnership took place at the Oxford Street store when the cleaners, who are members of the independent union Industrial Workers of the World, began a campaign of strike action. A second day of stirke action will take place on Friday 20 July.
The cleaners consider they are treated as second-class citizens by John Lewis as they are excluded from their Partnership and from sharing in the same pay and benefits as other workers at John Lewis. Instead cleaners are hired through a contractor: ICM (part of the Compass Group).
They earn a mere £6.08 per-hour, some work excessive shifts (for example, from 6.00 am – 9.00 pm), and some must be available for hours that they are not even paid for. The company now want to make cuts in nearly a third of the staff, but expect the cleaners to continue with the same workload.
Cleaners at John Lewis have had enough and voted by 90% in their ballot to strike. They are now demanding the London Living Wage of £8.30 per hour and no cuts in jobs or hours.
PCS Assistant General Secretary Chris Baugh said “PCS fully supports the John Lewis workers' demand for the living wage. Employers who sub-contract poverty pay, like the government and John Lewis, need to be both exposed and taken on.
Like the John Lewis cleaners, PCS members in the commercial sector are learning that collectively they can organise and effectively challenge employers engaged in a grotesque race to the bottom.
The John Lewis workers fight for the living wage has our full support and they deserve yours too.”
All PCS members are encouraged to show their support for the inspirational action being taken by our fellow workers by visiting picket lines outside the John Lewis Oxford Street store from 6:00 am on Friday 20 July and/or to attend the lunchtime demonstration at 1:00-2:00 pm.