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University cleaners: ‘Enough is enough is enough’

University cleaner went to work with a broken foot

08 October, 2021 — By Helen Chapman

UNISON members and university staff in Northampton Square this week

A UNIVERSITY cleaner felt forced to come into work with a broken foot because she was not allowed sick pay a rally was told yesterday (Thursday), writes Helen Chapman.

The demonstration was held outside City, University of London in Northampton Square and called for their cleaning and catering services to be brought in-house.

The university has said it plans to increase cleaners’ holiday pay immediately but the increases in sick pay and pensions for cleaners will only happen within three years.

The same change has not been offered to caterers. Fernanda Alves, a cleaner, said she broke her foot four years ago but still came to work. “I still get emotional when I talk about it,” she said. “I couldn’t afford to stay at home. As a result I still have problems with my foot and I still suffer from the pain.”

Labour councillor Phil Graham told the protest, organised by the union, Unison: “There is only one way to win these battles and that is to showthe people in these buildings you won’t roll over. We are coming out of a pandemic and during that time I never heard one person say ‘What are we going to do without those bankers? What are we going to do without those estate agents?’”

Patricia Yethman, a cleaner and Unison member, who has worked at the university for 20 years, said: “Over lockdown cleaners and caterers have provided a service. Every single day we come in doing the work yet they gave us nothing.

“We are human beings. It’s not fair. Enough is enough is enough. We are here to tell the university we will not stand for mistreatment.”

A spokesperson for City, University of London said: “City has stated its commitment to provide key equivalent terms and conditions of employment to outsourced cleaning staff. This is with the aim of achieving equivalent terms and conditions of employment with City’s own staff in a series of steps over a period of three years.

“This phased approach is necessary to allow the current and any future service provider to plan for changes to their own staffing requirements and to allow City to plan responsibly for the increased contractual costs.”

They added: “City already pays London Living Wage to all contracted staff and has in recent years provided contracted staff with additional paid leave for the university’s Christmas closure period.”

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