Barking cleaner supports improved work conditions campaign for migrants

an image showing litter on the ground

A campaign is encouraging migrants who work as cleaners to get involved. - Credit: PA Images

A Barking cleaner has backed a campaign aiming to improve working conditions for migrants who work in the cleaning industry.

The scheme from Cleaners United aims to tackle low pay, discrimination and sexual harassment.

Cleaners say these are rife in their industry, according to a report from the campaign group Focus on Labour Exploitation.

Mo, a 39 year-old migrant cleaner from Tunisia who lives in Barking, said: "Nobody appreciates the work we do.

"We work hard, unsociable hours in dirty and hazardous conditions, but we find ourselves treated like second class citizens.

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"This campaign should be a first step to ending the exploitation of cleaners."

Cleaners United aims to speak to at least 500 workers in the industry in the UK. It will use the results to begin a national campaign aimed at improving working conditions.

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Cleaners will then be invited to challenge employers and the government to improve working conditions.

A national alliance of trade unions, Cleaners United includes Unite, the Public and Commercial Services Union, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain and community organisations.

In the UK, migrants make up a third of the cleaning workforce nationally and over half in London, according to employment data from the Office for National Statistics. Many are Latino migrants.

A listening project will last until the end of July after which cleaners will be invited to decide the direction the national campaign will take.

Amanda Walters

Amanda Walters is campaign director at Cleaners United. - Credit: Ana Diaz

Amanda Walters, campaign director for Cleaners United, said: "We know migrant cleaners suffer from appalling working conditions and this campaign aims to support cleaners in their fight for respect and dignity in the workplace.

"No one should have to go to work and expect to experience bullying and harassment, or such low pay they cannot provide for their family, or a lack of basic work rights such as sick pay. 

"The listening campaign will be the biggest of its kind and will ensure that cleaners’ voices are heard."

Mo added: "As cleaners we face bullying and harassment from managers, on top of having to do one of the dirtiest, worst paid, hardest and most unpleasant jobs."

Cleaners who would like to participate are encouraged to visit

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