Commons cleaners to stage second walkout over pay

By Thair Shaikh
Monday 31 October 2005 01:00

The action follows a breakdown in negotiations with the parliamentary authorities to increase the wages of cleaners from £5.20 an hour to £6.70. The adult minimum wage is £5.05 an hour.

The strike means MPs and peers will face picket lines as they go to work on Wednesday of next week.

The 170 cleaners, who have no sick pay or pension scheme and have only 12 days' holiday a year, want the same benefits as the cleaners employed by the House of Lords, who have not been contracted out to private companies.

The cleaners hope that the strike will illustrate what they describe as their second class status in the Commons and will shame MPs, who earn £59,000 a year, into taking action. Cleaners in the Lords start at £7.89 an hour, receive a pension and get 30 days' paid holiday a year.

House of Commons cleaners staged their first strike in September, for 24 hours, but the action had little effect.

Jack Dromey, the deputy general secretary of the T&G, said that parliamentary authorities had refused to attend meetings because they "would achieve nothing".

Mr Dromey said: "In today's democracy it seems inconceivable that unelected, privileged civil servants are blocking attempts by parliamentarians to get their cleaners a living wage.

"We have been overwhelmed with support by MPs and peers but the stubborn refusal of the parliamentary authorities to act has led our members to decide they have no alternative but to mount picket lines outside Parliament."

Mr Dromey plans to "name and shame" MPs who have stayed silent on the subject and said that more than 250 MPs and members of the Lords had declared their support. Negotiations with the contracting firms had gone well but the dispute could only be resolved if the parliamentary authorities offer more money.

Of the contract cleaners, 140 are employed by Mitie Cleaning, which has been working in the Houses of Parliament for eight years. A total of 30 kitchen cleaners are employed by Emprise Services.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments