House of Commons cleaners to strike again

Cleaners at the House of Commons plan to strike for a second time in a bitter dispute over low pay and poor working conditions

Submitted by Steven. on November 2, 2005

The action follows a breakdown in negotiations with the parliamentary authorities to increase the wages of cleaners from £5.20 an hour to £6.70. The adult minimum wage is £5.05 an hour.

The strike means MPs and peers will face picket lines as they go to work tomorrow.

The 170 cleaners, who have no sick pay or pension scheme and have only 12 days' holiday a year, want the same benefits as the cleaners employed by the House of Lords, who have not been contracted out to private companies.

The cleaners hope that the strike will illustrate what they describe as their second class status in the Commons and will shame MPs, who earn £59,000 a year, into taking action. Cleaners in the Lords start at £7.89 an hour, receive a pension and get 30 days' paid holiday a year.

House of Commons cleaners staged their first strike in September, for 24 hours, but the action had little effect.

Of the contract cleaners, 140 are employed by Mitie Cleaning, which has been working in the Houses of Parliament for eight years. A total of 30 kitchen cleaners are employed by Emprise Services.