Hackney School Cleaners Holiday Rates Victory

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HACKNEY school cleaners have hailed victory in a dispute over the failure to pay proper holiday rates.

The settlement of the dispute at the six schools in the borough came after negotiations between Unite, the country’s largest union, and the cleaners’ employer OCS Group Ltd and their new employer, Kier, which will take over the contract from OCS.

The five days of strike action due to start this week has now been suspended and the more than 40 cleaners will be working normally. Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said on Friday: ‘This is an excellent win by these workers who have shown tremendous solidarity during the course of this dispute. The deal was hammered out after two days of tough negotiations this week.

‘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 down a strong marker to outsourcing companies that such salami slicing of pay and conditions won’t be tolerated.’

The details of the deal are:

• All current staff will remain on all-year-round contracts and will not be forced onto term-time-only contracts.

• Staff, who were recruited on term-time-only contracts, will be allowed to express a preference for a change to an all-year-round contract. The company will consider the options once it is clear how many staff want to upgrade to an all-year-round contract.

• Staff, who were recruited on all-year-round contracts but who were later misled into signing a new term-time-only contract, will be given the choice to revert to an all-year-round contract.

• The uprated London Living Wage (LLW), currently £10.20 an hour, will be applied from 10 February.

The dispute had centred on the refusal to pay the LLW; proposals to cut pay with new term-time-only contracts; and refusing to pay holiday pay in line with its legal obligations, which state that holiday pay should reflect normal remuneration. The Hackney schools involved were: Cardinal Pole School, Clapton Girls Academy, Haggerston School, Ickburgh School, Stoke Newington School and Urswick School.