SOAS Justice For Cleaners is led by SOAS cleaning staff, who started the campaign in 2006. In 2008 the campaign won the London Living Wage. Supported by the Students’ Union, and staff unions UNISON and UCU, the campaign for fair and equal pay and conditions has grown. Last year the campaign had a victory, winning its demands for sick pay, holiday pay and pensions, but not the full campaign demands so the fight continues!
The key demand of the Campaign is that the cleaners be brought back in-house - employed by SOAS directly rather than by an outsourced private company - has not yet been granted. The cleaners suffer victimisation and intimidation on our campus at the hands of the outsourced company, including the targeting of campaign activists and union representatives, and from continual attempts to cut costs by undermining working conditions. These injustices can only be prevented by bringing the cleaners back in-house, ensuring that they are treated with dignity and respect.
In 2012, a referendum was held in which 98.2% of participants from the SOAS community voted in favour of the cleaners being brought in-house. We believe that SOAS is currently not practicing the values of equality and social justice that is preached in its classrooms. The cleaners work is crucial to the functioning of SOAS and they are a vital part of the SOAS community, and must be treated as such by the university.
2006: Campaign was begun by SOAS cleaners.
2008 June: SOAS cleaners won the London Living Wage.
2009 June: Cleaners were called to an ‘emergency meeting’ in SOAS where they were faced with immigration officers. 9 cleaners were deported, one of whom was pregnant.
2012 October: SOAS cleaner and activist, Lenin, faced with disciplinary proceedings and court hearing after refusing to carry out extra work without extra pay.
2012 December: Referendum held by ballot box. Out of the 1,294 students and staff who participated, 98.2% voted in favour of the cleaners being brought in-house.
2012-2013: much support expressed at numerous demonstrations and events, such as Justice For Cleaners Latino Nights and the Justice For Cleaners Day. JFC Badges, bags, and t-shirts worn, including at Graduation.
2013-14: Series of strikes,climaxing in a 3 day strike. Resulting in improved sick pay, holiday pay and pensions.
2014-15: Continued harassment and victimisation of cleaners. Continued protests and disruption of a governing body meeting.