Cleaning staff at John Lewis are out on strike today over pay, conditions and job cuts.
Members of the union Industrial Workers of the World are picketing outside the Oxford Street branch, after a ballot for industrial action received 90% of the vote. They started at 6am this morning, and will hold an hour-long lunchtime demonstration outside the store.
According to regional secretary Chris Ford, cleaners are protesting over their minimum pay wage - £6.08 an hour – and general working conditions, working “excessive” shifts of 6am-9pm or being asked to be available at times when they are not being paid.
John Lewis is also planning cuts to a third of its cleaning staff, Ford said.
They are demanding a pay rise to £8.30 an hour, and the promise of no cuts in jobs and hours.
“The cleaners consider they are treated as second-class citizens by John Lewis, who excludes the cleaners from their partnership and shares in same pay and benefits of other workers at John Lewis,” he said. “Instead cleaners are hired through a contractor - ICM part of the Compass Group.”
Ford added: “Cleaners at John Lewis have had enough… They say John Lewis must stop washing its hands of the cleaners. Other companies have ensured their contractors pay the living wage - it is time John Lewis ensured justice for its cleaner.”
The union is also calling on other labourers to show solidarity and join the picket line.
A spokesperson for John Lewis said: “Lewis is very concerned by these actions and we recognise that contracted cleaners in London feel strongly about their level of pay. Although we do not have any contractual link with the sub contractor, ICM, which employs the cleaners concerned, we are in discussions with MML, the managing contractor which subcontracts ICM, in order to help resolve this dispute. Our urgent aim is to ensure that the issues raised are brought to a satisfactory resolution as soon as possible.”