Hackney school cleaners call off strike after London living wage victory

Stoke Newington School, which unions claim could lose up to 38 teachers over the next four years due

Stoke Newington School, which unions claim could lose up to 38 teachers over the next four years due to funding cuts. - Credit: Archant

Cleaners at six Hackney schools have called off a strike next week after an agreement was reached that will see them paid the London living wage.

Bosses at union Unite settled the dispute with their employer OCS Group, which has decided to bow out. Kier, which had sub-contracted the work to OCS, will take on the contract directly.

As well as demanding the living wage (LLW), the 40 workers were fighting proposals to cut pay by bringing in term time only contracts, and OCS’s refusal to pay holiday pay in line with its legal obligations.

The walk-out was set to take place from January 30 to February 2, with another planned for February 5.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “This is an excellent win by these workers who have shown tremendous solidarity during the course of this dispute.

“What makes this all the more significant is that it bucks the industry trend which is to move to term time only conditions.

“This Hackney settlement lays downs a strong marker to outsourcing companies that such salami slicing of pay and conditions won’t be tolerated.”

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The Hackney schools involved were Cardinal Pole School, Clapton Girls Academy, Haggerston School, Ickburgh School, Stoke Newington School and Urswick School.

The town hall, as a LLW employer, pays all staff the rate – currently £10.20 – and requires its contractors to as well. OCS was paying the LLW but when it went up they stopped.

Hackney mayor Phil Glanville said: “I’m glad that this dispute has been resolved amicably. I am proud that Hackney is a London Living Wage borough and pleased to hear that the cleaners will now be receiving the increased rate in February rather than April as originally planned.

“I also understand through my conversations with Unite and Kier that it has been agreed to review and hold further talks with staff in relation to contracted hours.”