Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

Posted on 23 July 2012 at 10:05 GMT

John Lewis cleaners strike for a living wage

John Lewis cleaners organised in the International Workers of the World (IWW) took their second day of strike action on Friday 20 July. 40 cleaners and their supporters picketed outside the company's high-profile store on Oxford Street in central London.

John Lewis pays its hard-working cleaners only the minimum wage, a measly 6.08 an hour. The cleaners are demanding a pay rise to match the London Living Wage of 8.30.

John Lewis is held up by many pro-capitalist commentators as a successful example of 'responsible capitalism', because of its employee-owned co-operative partnership scheme.

However, the cleaners on strike at John Lewis have not been allowed to enter the partnership scheme, and are denied any share of the company's profits.

Alberto Durango, the branch secretary for the IWW's London cleaners branch said: "The workers are striking about pay conditions and cuts.

"They each earn the minimum wage, 6.08 a hour. The company is testing them, the company wanted to cut 50% of cleaners' jobs, and for the remaining workfare to do twice the work.

"In reality, they were trying to reduce our pay to 3.04 a hour. The campaign has forced the company to change its position; they now want to cut 10 workers.

"We say no cuts, and a living wage. When the campaign started the workers realised they can win the living wage.

"The workers are confident. Management are trying to divide us and offer false promises, but we're not stupid, we have one voice."

Action to come

John Lewis cleaners and other workers in dispute have taken inspiration from the sparks' long and successful campaign to stop greedy pay cuts by construction bosses.

I asked Alberto: Where next for the campaign? He said: "We are gonna strike next Thursday [26th] when the Olympic torch passes down Oxford Street in front of the store.

We're going to have demos at sites nationally and locally. We might target the Olympics site in Stratford. We need support from the whole working class."

I asked Alberto if he was confident they could win. "YES! The workers are key. We don't fight like other unions and organisations, the workers have to fight.

"If you fight from the inside, if you're radical, and if you know you can win."

The whole trade union movement is behind the John Lewis cleaners. Steve Hedley, London organiser for the RMT, addressed the picketers, he explained how London Underground cleaners organised in the RMT would be taking strike action over the same issue, of their employer refusing to pay the London Living Wage.

He was alongside Chris Baugh, assistant general secretary of the PCS (civil servants trade union). Chris said: "The PCS fully supports the John Lewis workers' demand for the living wage.

"Employers who sub-contract poverty pay, like the government and John Lewis, need to be both exposed and taken on."

When John Lewis cleaners take their third day of strike action next Thursday, 26th July, pickets will be from 6am, and there will be a rally outside John Lewis at 1pm.

Ian Pattison, East London Socialist Party

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


Related links:


triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Tories in Crisis

triangleLondon bus drivers begin strike ballot over remote sign-on dispute

triangleTate workers on indefinite strike hold march and rally

triangleHackney & Islington Socialist Party: Covid Schools + Tories = Chaos

triangleWest London Socialist Party: The role of the working class in the struggle for socialism

John Lewis:

triangleWorkers count the cost of the retail crisis

triangleWorkplace news in brief


triangleStrike wave marks new stage in revival of Iranian workers' movement

triangleMass protests in Israel demand Netanyahu's resignation

triangleLondon bus drivers poised for strike action


triangleMoJ cleaners' covid outbreak

triangleISS workers' pay victory


triangleNHS workers: "We deserve a fair wage" - 15% now!

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns


The Socialist

Selling the Socialist


Socialist Party

Why I joined the Socialist Party: Tories and Blairites only care about corporate greed


Young people

Covid generation says 'fund our future'



Coventry: scrap 'profit before people' hospital parking charges



Angry health workers demand 15% now!



Reinstate Richie Venton



Reinstate Tony Smith



Tate workers on indefinite strike hold march and rally



London bus drivers begin strike ballot over remote sign-on dispute



Ireland: Debenham's occupier speaks out



PCS members in DWP reject unsafe extension of hours


National Shop Stewards Network

National Shop Stewards Network lobbying for a lead from the TUC


Socialist Party

Two weeks to donate: we need your help


Black Lives Matter

BLM: Socialist alternative to racist capitalism



Fight Amazon's anti-union spies

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041



Alphabetical listing

September 2020

August 2020

July 2020

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020