Unite calls on Cameron to end scandal of poverty pay f...

Unite calls on Cameron to end scandal of poverty pay for Whitehall cleaners

07 November 2012

Unite, the country’s biggest union, is calling on the government to get its house in order and end the scandal of poverty pay for Whitehall cleaning staff.

In the week that the Labour party and Boris Johnson have backed the campaign for Whitehall workers to get paid the London living wage, Unite is calling on the prime minister to make it a reality. 

The ‘Justice for Cleaners’ campaign is fighting for the London living wage and is led by Unite, which represents over 2,000 cleaners in the capital, including workers in Whitehall, Canary Wharf and London Underground.

Currently many cleaners receive just the bare minimum legal pay of £6.19 per hour (national minimum wage), which takes no account of the high cost of living in London and is proven to be insufficient to meet the basic costs of living.

Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, said: “It is all well and good Cameron saying that the living wage is a ‘good and attractive idea’, but he needs to put his money where his mouth is and pay it to the cleaners that clean his ministers’ offices.

“It is a disgrace that members of staff who clean well paid politicians’ offices and ensure that key departments run smoothly are not paid enough to live on.  That is why the ‘Justice for Cleaners’ campaign is calling on Cameron to end this scandal and pay cleaners the London living wage.

“It will just not wash with people if the government tries to use the EU as an excuse for not taking action on the living wage. 

“With millions struggling to get by on poverty pay, this government needs to immediately increase the national minimum wage by £1 an hour, as a stepping stone to a full living wage.  This would give a much needed boost in income to the hardest up workers and also stimulate the economy, by putting cash in the hands of people who are most likely to spend it.”

Notes to editors:

  • For further information contact James Bevan on 07711 347 645 or Alex Flynn on 07967 665 869.
  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.
  • The living wage is £8.55 per hour in London and £7.45 per hour for outside of London