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UK: Marsh suspends protesting cleaners

I thought the article below was interesting because I have recently had some Polish visitors looking for work and finding agencies who seem able to pay below the minimum wage because of a loophole in the legislation. At least the people below ARE getting the min wage. Many others are working for less and are unaware of their rights. There are also people regularly working for free in top hotels in London on "trial" periods.


American insurance group Marsh has insisted that 12 contract
cleaners employed at its City of London headquarters be suspended
from duty, after they held a protest demanding improved pay and

The cleaners, most of whom are Polish, are employed by contractor
ISS at an hourly rate of £5.60. After their night-shift ended last
Thursday morning, they joined a protest organised by the trade union
Unite, as part of its long-running Justice for Cleaners campaign.

But Marsh subsequently identified the employees involved, and
demanded ISS remove them from the contract immediately. As a result,
ISS has suspended the cleaners on full pay, and hopes to transfer
them to other locations in London in the next few days. 'We don't
like to lose good people,' said a spokesman for ISS.

One of the suspended cleaners, who did not want to be identified for
fear of further reprisals, told The Observer: 'I have to clean 600
desks in a night, and it's very hard work.

'We just want to be treated like human beings. When I came to
England, I knew that I couldn't work in an office, because I do not
speak English. I know my place. But I expected people to think of me
as a human being.'

Most of the cleaners had worked at the company for at least a year.
They were campaigning for a 'living wage', more than the statutory
minimum, sick pay and pension rights.

Paul Davies, Unite campaign manager, said: 'This is an absolute
infringement of people's rights to free speech and protest. People
should be allowed to say, "I have been wronged" and not be punished
for it.'

A spokesman for Marsh declined to comment. The US group is the
world's largest insurance broker, and also owns private
investigation firm Kroll.