Cleaners to be brought In-House on Unequal Terms

Some cleaners at the LSE have expressed their concern over the terms of their upcoming transfer in-house from outsourcing company Noonan, agreed upon after a 10-month-long campaign and week-long strike led by cleaners of the United Voices of the World (UVW) union.

While the in-house process will reportedly bring cleaners parity in terms of annual leave, sick pay, paternity/maternity/adoption leave and pension contribution, cleaners argue their new employment still falls short of the equality they seek.

“We are moving from poverty to extreme poverty” says Daniel, one the cleaners at the LSE, “the fight we fought is for equality for all, not for a privileged few.”

Uneven distribution of information dependent on union recognition and membership has left some cleaners frustrated at the consultation process in which these terms have been agreed.

Cleaners will be moved from hourly pay to salaried pay of 35 hours per week. In documents shown to The Beaver, the cleaners being brought in-house appear to have not been allocated additional overtime pay. While Noonan did not pay overtime either, some cleaners allege that LSE porters and security staff receive overtime pay.

Consequently, many cleaners fear the LSE still sees them as undeserving of equal treatment.

A consultation meeting was held on 8 February for cleaners coming in house, where allegedly only documents related to “Frequently Asked Questions” were distributed in Spanish – the native language of many LSE cleaners.

Cleaners also stated that the documents distributed were different depending on whether or not they were members of the union UNISON (LSE still refuses to recognise UVW, the union of a substantial amount of LSE’s cleaners). As such, cleaners represented by the union UVW are concerned over their ability to have a say given the consultation’s recognition of only the UNISON, Unite and UCU unions. 

The in-house process is taking place under the Transfer of Undertakings Protection for Employment (TUPE). This protects the previous terms and conditions of employees as they are transferred to another organisation. As part of this process, cleaners’ employment will automatically transfer to the LSE, meaning they will have no ability to reject the terms of their new contracts without resigning.

LSE UNISON say that they “have been working hard to ensure the transfer of employment from Noonan to LSE will be as smooth as possible. From 5 March cleaners will benefit from enhanced terms and conditions in line with other LSE staff, but the real work will also begin to fully integrate the team into the organisation, investing in workers’ personal and professional development.” 

Written by  Nash Croker and Sofia Lesur Kastelein


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