The independent union the Industrial Workers of the World has today served notice for strike action of cleaners at the John Lewis Partnership’s flagship Oxford Street store. This is the first strike in the history of the Partnership only recently hailed by Deputy Minister Nick Clegg as a model for the British economy.
The campaign of industrial action will commence on Friday 13th July 2012. If a settlement is not reached the IWW has made clear it will announce further strikes in July and August, including through the Olympic period.
The members of the IWW Cleaners' Branch announced a resounding mandate from its members to take strike action, the strike ballot had an 80% turnout with 90% voting in favour of industrial action.
Cleaners at John Lewis Partnership at employed through a contractor Integrated Cleaning Management (ICM) who recently announced up to 50% cuts, comprising cuts in cleaners hours (wages) and jobs. ICM have refused to recognise the union for collective bargaining and rejected outright a claim for the London Living Wage of £8.30 per-hour, a rate set by the Greater London Authority and championed by Mayor Boris Johnson.
The London Citizens campaign has been engaged in several years of discussions with John Lewis to bring the cleaners into the Partnership and pay the London Living Wage, making no progress. The cleaners feel exasperated by a contractor who recently offered a mere 24 pence pay increase, conditional on 100% attendance.
IWW have been approached by numerous John Lewis partners have expressed sympathy with the cleaners and also have wondered why the cleaners have not been brought into the partnership.
This IWW dispute has had wide ranging support including various MPs from Labour and Plaid Cymru that have signed the Parliamentary Early Day Motion 301. The IWW and its supporters expect the cleaners to be treated with respect, paid fairly and remain employed in sufficient numbers to meet the demands of a flagship store on Oxford Street.