Protest against UBS taking cleaners’ money


1:08 pm - February 11th 2010

by Newswire    


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As Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) announce quarterly profits of £772 million this week, cleaning workers and their supporters will be demonstrating at their London offices on Friday 12th February.

The demonstration is in protest at attacks on workers’ pay and the dismissal of Alberto Durango, the cleaners’ now former shop-steward.

Alberto and his supporters believe his sacking is directly related to his workplace union organising and campaigning work.

Many of the cleaners – who are members of the Unite trade union and are predominately migrants from West Africa, Latin America and some European countries – were involved in a campaign in 2008 to win the “London Living Wage” at UBS, currently £7.60 per hour.

Despite this victory, most workers still have to work multiple shifts in order to make ends meet. UBS has encouraged a race to the bottom resulting in their cleaning contractors cutting cleaning staff hours – therefore pay – or make redundancies.

This in contrast to UBS’ announcement on 9th February reporting a 34% increase in their bonus pool to £1.72 billion and their decision last year to increase their London banking staff wages by 15% – 20%.

“Maria” has been cleaning desks and toilets at the UBS Lombard Street offices for over 3 years.

She said:

The Company has broken their promise that they would not change our hours or conditions after we won the ‘Justice for Cleaners’ campaign. A year after getting an agreement on the living wage, we are still fighting. I just want to earn enough to be able to spend time with my family during the weekend.

Union representative Chris Ford said

The public are outraged by the continued and undeserved bankers’ bonuses since banks like UBS, Goldman Sachs and Royal Bank of Scotland have been bailed out by public money across the world.

What’s the bankers’ excuse for attacking the subsistence wages of the people who wipe their computer screens and clean their toilets?

Friday 12th February’s “Defend Living Wage – Justice for UBS Cleaners” demonstration is at 1pm outside UBS Capital, 100 Liverpool Street, London EC2M 2RH.

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Reader comments


The price of labour rises.

Less labour is used.

Wow, who could have predicted that one?

#1

So if that’s all it is, why was Alberto in particular sacked? Just coincidence?

3. Solomon Hughes

I am not sure how convincing Tim’s suggestion that the invisible hand of the market is punishing the cleaners for their pay rise – “The price of labour rises- Less labour is used” – really is.
This would imply the higher the wages and salaries go , the greater level of unemployment – it was the argument against the minimum wage. But in fact countries or areas with really low wages have really high unemployment, much higher than countries or areas with good rates of pay. And the better paid trades and professions experience much lower levels of unemployment than the low paid unskilled : there are more unemployed pickers and packers than unemployed doctors. You will find a lot more labourers signing on than lift engineers. I think this is much more a case of the visible hand of the market – in the shape of UBS and their subcontractors (Lancaster & Mitie) trying to take revenge for their defeat.

I suspect the whole problem here is that although the cleaners are being paid more per hour they are now expected to do the same work in less time as a result they end up earning the same as before the pay rise. If you look around at all the cleaning going on in the London banks then I think you will find that cleaning costs have gone down over the past ten years for all of them as they insist on getting cheaper and cheaper cleaning. I have a view on bankers and bonuses but let us just say that I believe that the cleaner is a more valuable member of our society than any of these bankers.

#4

No, the problem here is victimisation. The problem is the attempt to break cleaners’ organisation & intimidate others from demanding fair wages by taking out a key player. It’s not market logic, it’s just power politics & greed.


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  1. Liberal Conspiracy

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  2. N E Services

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  3. Sandy Gray

    RT @libcon: Protest against UBS taking cleaners' money http://bit.ly/9O3Ow0





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