Monday 3 March 2014, by Pablo Navarrete - www.alborada.net
Why are cleaners at SOAS going on strike this week?
The cleaners at SOAS have been struggling for an end to the systematic discrimination suffered at work. After 4 years of being ignored and having exhausted all possible channels to get ISS (the outsourcing company) and SOAS to even negotiate with the cleaners, they were left with no option but to initiate the legal procedure to go on strike.
The two day strike will be held on the 4th and 5th of March. This situation of exploitation and discrimination against cleaners through outsourcing services, with the university's complicity, is not only occurring at SOAS but it is been reproduced by other universities throughout London.
The cleaners demand to be brought back in-house. This will end the systematic discrimination that the cleaners suffer at work. It will guarantee that the cleaners enjoy the same managerial behavioural standards and have equal contractual terms and conditions as those working directly for SOAS. This means equal sick pay, holidays and pension scheme. The cleaners expect to be treated with dignity and respect, as every worker deserves.
Has the campaign been able to attract the support of SOAS students and wider circles?
Yes, Justice for Cleaners' campaign is backed 100% by the students in general as well as students' societies, the students´ union at SOAS and the UCU. The students are supporting the strike and demanding, together with the cleaners, for SOAS and ISS to respond to the cleaners´ demands immediately. The lecturers at SOAS are also supporting the strike. For instance, students and professors will unite in solidarity with the cleaners and won't cross the picket line by moving lectures to other days so the strike will be completely supported.
Ken Loach has also sent us a very supportive message:
“Everyone has the right to receive equal contractual standards so that they can live in security and with dignity. SOAS management have a responsibility to guarantee that the cleaners enjoy equal terms and
conditions to those working directly for them. This means receiving equal sick pay, holidays and a pension scheme. Public bodies like SOAS have an absolute duty to those who work for them. I hope all the teaching staff,
office staff and students show their respect for the people who maintain their building by refusing to cross the picket line. Stand together and support those on strike.”