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On Friday 13th July, the first strike in the history of the John Lewis Partnership will take place at the Oxford Street store – the cleaners who are members of the independent union Industrial Workers of the World will begin a campaign of strike action.

The cleaners consider they are treated as second-class citizens by John Lewis who excludes the cleaners from their Partnership and shares in same pay and benefits of other workers at John Lewis. Instead cleaners are hired through a contractor – ICM part of the Compass Group.

They earn a mere £6.08 per-hour, some work excessive shifts such as from 6:00 am – 9:00 pm, and some must be available for hours they are not even paid for. The company now want to make cuts in nearly a third of the staff, but expect the cleaners to continue with the same workload.

Cleaners at John Lewis have had a enough. They voted by 90% in their ballot to strike and are demanding the London Living Wage of £8.30 per-hour and no cuts in jobs or hours. They say John Lewis must stop washing its hands of the cleaners. Other companies have ensured their contractors pay the Living Wage it is time John Lewis ensured justice for its cleaner.

Compass Group say they cannot afford the Living wage. Yet their pre-tax profits rose to £581 million – they offered the cleaners 24-pence pay rise! The Compass chairman Sir Roy Gardner is paid £477,000 a year, he donated £50,000 to David Cameron’s election campaign – the same Cameron who said ‘the living wage is an idea whose time has come’.

The cleaners are striking from 6:00 am on Friday 13th and will hold a lunchtime demonstration at 1:00-2:00 pm, John Lewis Oxford Street.

The cleaners at call on all sections of the labour movement to show solidarity with them and send delegations to the picket line and to the demonstration on Friday.

CHRIS FORD

Regional Secretary

Industrial Workers of the World