Cleaners at John Lewis’s Oxford Street store are balloting for strikes to win the “London Living Wage” of £8.55 per hour.
John Lewis cleaners struck in summer 2012 and, although they did win a 10% wage increase, they are still paid well below the amount that the GLA deems the minimum necessary to live a decent life in the capital. The cleaners, who are employed by the contractor ICM Ltd., are paid £6.72 an hour.
On 7 March, John Lewis will announce the annual bonus for directly-employed staff (“partners”). The company is expected to announce a 17% increase in annual profits in the year to January 2013. Cleaners, however, are excluded from the staff “partnership” scheme on which John Lewis prides itself and will not receive a bonus.
Alberto Durango, an organiser for the Industrial Workers of Great Britain, said: “The John Lewis cleaners each earn just above the minimum wage; in London that is poverty wages. When the campaign started last year the workers realised they can win. Now our union is stronger and more confident. Management are trying to divide us, but we’re not stupid, we have one voice. Other unions are also helping us and with solidarity we will win.”
The IWGB served ICM with official notice of the dispute on 1 March, and will begin balloting on 8 March.