You want a heartwarming Christmas advert? Here ya go:
Outsourced John Lewis cleaners have won an immediate and backdated 9% pay rise following their pledge of industrial action. The increase, backdated 5 months, takes their pay to £6.72 per hour at three central London sites, and £6.50 at one outer London site. Supervisors will now get £8.00 per hour and £7.84 respectively.
United in the IWW trade union, the cleaners notified their employer, ICM, last week of the trade dispute and impending ballot for industrial action. This ballot could have seen visible and noisy industrial action by cleaners at four John Lewis sites in London in the run up to Christmas.
John Lewis has seen pre-Christmas profits increase on last year already. The company are proud of their partnership structure, where all staff are ‘partners’ who share in the company’s profits.
But John Lewis’ cleaning contract is outsourced to MML, who outsource it again to ICM. The cleaners have seen their hours reduce and workload increase, while they were paid minimum wage of £6.19 – and they don’t share in the profits.
This increase, including a backdated lump sum just before Christmas, will make a real difference to our members’ lives. ICM further pledged to look at the potential to pay a Living Wage of £8.55 as they enter contract talks early in 2013.
I knew the wobblies were trying to reconstitute themselves by recruiting in retail sectors, but this came as a bit of a surprise. John Lewis and its contrators are obviously low hanging fruit, but the timing of the dispute is both shrewd and, hopefully, scalable. And a small victory of the disregarded and disposable in the Bitish economy is, by any measure, wonderful news. Alive as you and me.