27 August 2013
Labour councillors and activists today joined the picket line with strikers from the OCS contractors who provide cleaning services to all the Council’s housing estates. Unlike other contract staff, these cleaners not only earn much less than the London Living Wage (£7.18 per hour rather than £8.55 per hour) but have had their pay frozen for the coming year, while other contract staff will get an increase of 3%.
Such low pay makes it impossible for workers to live in London and bring up their families without recourse to welfare top-ups, such as Housing Benefit. OCS shareholders have long enjoyed healthy dividends from the efforts of these dedicated low paid workers and the company can well afford to pay a decent living wage. Instead, shareholders enjoy a subsidy from every income tax payer (including OCS cleaners) whose hard earned money provides the welfare benefits that top up low pay and deliver huge company profits.
Labour Group Leader Cllr. Judith Blakeman said “It is disgraceful that the Council and the TMO, unlike even the Mayor of London, do not require all their contractors to pay the London Living Wage to their workers, many of whom have served them loyally for a very long time”. Cllr. Pat Mason, Labour’s trade union liaison officer, added: “it is not a matter of residents having to pay higher service charges for cleaning. OCS shareholders should take their fair share of cuts in these times of austerity and top managers should stop expecting the tax payer to subsidise their bonuses”.
Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors in Kensington and Chelsea have consistently refused Labour demands that all the Council’s contract staff be paid the London Living Wage. While most of the Council’s contractors do pay it, Labour councillors expect a fair and consistent approach to all workers delivering services to Borough residents and urge OCS to get back to the negotiating table.