“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Monday, 16 July 2012

John Lewis cleaners fight for dignity - and a fair days pay.

The retailer of choice for the respectable, Guardian reading elements of the chattering classes has long been John Lewis/Waitrose. Owned by the workers (coyly referred to as "partners" and having a corporate social responsibility profile of almost saintly proportions, the punters could stock up on Fairtrade coffee and ethically sourced soft furnishings and feel good about themselves at the same time.
The stores are spacious, brightly lit and sparkling clean. Yes, did you ever notice how clean everything is? You might be surprised to learn that this wonderful, ethical organisation sub out the cleaning to ICM of the Compass Group who pay the cleaners in the London stores a derisory £6.08 per hour, well below the London Living Wage. It makes perfect economic sense for companies to sub-contract work and thus absolve themselves of all responsibility for the pay and conditions of the workers involved. Perfect economic sense but it also makes a mockery of John Lewis' loudly proclaimed ethical stance.
It was good to see the lively cleaners picket outside the Oxford Street store on Saturday. More power to their elbow.

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