Below is a transcript we’ve received from representatives of Industrial Workers of the World Cleaners’ Branch
An extract of the transcript can be heard on this video:
All cleaning staff
Deputy Manager: DM
M: Right. The reason I’ve called this meeting today is because I wanna talk about pay rises. Or rather I should say I’ve already told this you back in November when we met that there would not be a pay rise this year. I told you, all of you, that I put a budget in to the client in November with a pay rise in for all of the staff. The client said it was too expensive – take it out.
Now I told all of you this, when we met, in one of our meetings. I now find that there is a letter, circulating. I don’t care who has signed this letter. I was told the letter was going to be given to the client, about demanding a pay rise. Are you people, stupid? And I don’t mean that to be rude, but I sit here and I think to myself – when somebody is told the client has said there will be no pay rise. Then I discover there is a letter going round that you are going to give to the client that says we want a pay rise. What planet are you on? Do you not understand that this could lose the contract?
Do you think if another company came in here they would come in with pay rises and more staff. No. They would come in here with less money, less staff. You would find not only would your wages be cut but you would probably lose some people because you are well staffed in this contract, well staffed. Now, to say that I was a little upset is to put it mildly. I was furious. And really I still am. In a minute you are going to sign a form. Every single one of you. That form says that if you ever, go the client over my head, ever, you will be bringing the company into disrepute, and you will be committing gross misconduct. Do you all understand what gross misconduct is? You can be sacked for gross misconduct. Dismissed.
If anybody goes to the client ever and goes over my head, I will instantly suspend them from work. You will walk out the door within 5 minutes of going to the client. I hope I have made myself understood. You all understand me – yes? You don’t understand me. You don’t understand X. If you take letter to the client.
DM: Or you talk to the client moaning.
M: I will suspend from work and you will go on disciplinary. Whether you keep your job or not we will think that it is gross misconduct. That is a sackable offence. I have done with you people. I am done playing Mrs Nice Guy I am done. From now on we will run this contract to the rules and the regulations. There’ll be no more us trying to help you, dealing with your problems. If you’ve got a problem come to Sue, she will help you. I have always helped somebody who has come to me with a problem. Now I don’t want to know your problem. I want you to come to work, do your work, go home. End of. I, at every opportunity, fight for better conditions, and better pay for my staff. At every opportunity I get. None of you, not one of you, respect that. None of you. So here’s my terms. You sign this form. You go near the client, you’re gonna be disobeying my orders, you’re gonna get suspended from work. That’s it.
DM: I personally take this as an insult as well because only last week we had a meeting. Only last week I told you, unfortunately this is what we tried to do to help you in terms of the wages. This is the scenario. You all smiled and nodded your head. I came out of that meeting saying to Sue, when she came back, “That was a really constructive meeting I think that everyone is on board, I’m really happy that everyone is OK with what we are trying to do, that they understand.” So I think this is a personal insult, personally to me and to Sue, the other day. I try my utmost to help you in terms of your personal problems, your this and your that, in terms of work and at home. I might as well not have bothered. Obviously we all want extra money. I want extra money as
much as you do.
M: I would like a pay rise.
DM: Ah. Yeah.
M: It’s not happening. You don’t hear me moaning. You don’t hear me running to the client saying, ‘I want a pay rise’. The client says tough. There is a recession on.
M: Out there, out there, there is a recession. Every company is trying to save money. Every company. Trying to save money. Nobody is getting a pay rise. Nobody. Now, to me, I would say to you people, if you want to earn more the £7 .50 an hour, which isn’t a bad pay.
M: Lots of sites in the city are on minimum wage £6.30.
DM: And then they have pay to get into Central London. Extra money again.
M: You wanna earn more money.
M: Go find another job.
Cleaner: Ok, very nice. Let’s show you something for you and show something for you. To everybody. Because, I see now, that this discussion is going very well from Sue. We don’t want to…..
M: You idiot. Very interested to see who’s um
C: Please, now I need to show you, one moment.
M: You’re never going to get the London living wage. You’re living in a bloody dream world.
C: Who knows, nobody knows. You told us never, never, and nothing happened.
DM: You obviously didn’t hear what we just said.
C: I need
M: No, excuse me …., you’re never even in the meetings.
C: One moment
DM: Can I just ask are you the union rep. Are you the union rep?
C: What’s rep?
DM: The representative from the union.
M: Why have you got names of people on here that aren’t even working here anymore? You’ve got names of people on her that don’t even work here anymore?
C: These are all your people. Your people. Here is not somebody strange.
M: I now get a miserly £7.50 an hour. Do you think that’s a poor wage £7.50 an hour?
C: This is miserly pay in modern day. This is a miserly pay.
M: So why don’t you go and find somewhere else?
C: I don’t care but there are other people who
DM: Please tell me
DM: No, I’d just love to know
C: We have our own business, own problem here with this collective.
M: No, no, no there’s no problem. Ahh ahhh aaahhhhh. You work for me. You earn £7.50 an hour. There is no more money.
C: I work for Lancaster or Initial, not for you personally.
M: We can certainly do something about that.
C: I am working for the company.
C: Everyone has received a letter like this. This is from head office I understand. Yes? OK. Before we did not know. I do not want to repeat again what has been said just now. But I would just point your attention to the two words – there will be no change to your pay and benefits or to somebody else. So, what does it mean first by pay? It’s our salary right?
M: Your rate of pay.
C: OK it doesn’t matter it’s our salary which in modern day is not enough already. So there’s going to be movement. Not from this union …. This is from parliament.
M: Are you all really really sure that you want to sign this?
C: No, I finish my idea because
M: Because I am telling you now there will be consequences to this.
M: If you think I am putting up with this you are out of your mind.
C: I need to tell you just first. Nobody will go over your head without your –
M: Where do you, where do you wanna go with this? Where do you think you’re gonna go with this?
DM: Given that we have caught you. When were you gonna present this to us?
C: Listen I have an idea which I need to say to you and to people
M: Say it then. Come on.
C: OK. So all of these contracts which were before signed was OK with everyone but this last contract was signed without notation of fact and nobody knows.
M: No, no, no. They don’t need to know
C: I need to know because I need my contract.
M: No, they don’t need to know. Let me explain to you. Let me explain to you. You think you know things and you don’t know them. Let me explain. I understand it.
C: I have the right to get the new contract. A new contract.
M: That is your contract.
C: This is the contract? Where is it signed? Your signed
M: You already have got original contracts. When things change you send a letter.
C: This contract was signed only three years ago. After that we get two times change of circumstances and last time we did not get this contract. I need to get this contract.
M: Go to head office.
C: This is not a contract.
M: Go to head office then.
C: This is not a contract.
M: No. You go to HR at Head Office because I have spoken to them today.
C: So you are not saying the truth? It’s not truth?
DM: That is an amendment.
C: It is not a contract.
M: It’s an amendment.
C: It is not a contract only a letter. It is not a contract. No. So this means it is not true.
DM: Exactly, it’s an amendment. An a-mend-ment.
M: You are so ignorant you don’t know anything.
C: I need to say because I need to get answer on this question. It says no pay and no benefits. Who got benefits? Amanda, tell me please.
M: Then let me answer.
C: Brilliant. I am listening.
M: Big mouth. Let me answer.
C: I am like you. You are talking and me too. You have a question and me too.
M: But you’re very disrespectful V.
M/DM: Oh Jesus Christ it’s an amendment. You are so ignorant you don’t know anything.
M: No. Let me answer. Let me answer the question.
C: OK please
DM: Oh my god.
M: The pay and benefits relate to your rate of pay and benefits are things you’ve been given in your contract such as bank holidays, holiday allowances. Quite easy, if you’d asked me this 2 months ago when you started planning the big plot I could have answered that for you.
C: This is not a plot it is our right.
M: I’ve just told you what the benefits are. Holiday pay, bank holidays.
C: The holiday pay is absolutely different.
M: Excuse me are you a Personnel expert?
C: No no no one moment again this is not true before you told us benefits is going to our pay…
DM: ok read this and sign this read it and sign
M: I’m not talking anymore I’m not talking anymore… Because you are not listening to me?
C: Included in our pay?
DM: quoting from letter
M: You will sign an agreement
C: Of course I will sign
DM: cont. reading Damage the reputation of the company. Any breaches.. of both count as gross misconduct..
M: Excuse me I am talking now. I would be quite happy to bring HR and the Director from the company in here to discuss this with you. Quite happy. They still will not get you a pay rise, but if you want to put them to that trouble, make yourselves look like troublemakers I am quite happy to do that. Would you like me to do that? You are one person. How many people would like me to do that?
C1: I am not understand
C2: explains they should not go to the client
M: Common sense at last.
M: Yes of course this is what will happen you silly man.
C2: Loss of contract
DM: This is the candle that burns the contract this kind of thing
M: And another company will come in which is cheaper.
C: So you two get the Lancaster pay?
M: You are just making yourself sound stupid now. How do you think Lancaster gets the funds to pay your salary? They get it from the client.
C: I see this discussion is going too far.
M: I will be taking it a lot further.
DM: If you go to the client there will be consequences.
C: I will go to head office.
M: I am sick and tired that people in this contract cannot just come in do their job and go home. I am not the only one. Shut up a minute because you are just getting on my nerves. You have got a big mouth you are coming saying ya ya ya. You are telling them a load of rubbish. 1 its not true 2 you were going to come to us.
You were scuppered because someone told me what you were going to do.
We are decent people in this contract. We don’t want this rubbish that you are spouting.
C: This is not rubbish. It is our life.
M: What about our life? How do you know. You don’t know what we earn.
You thought. You, nobody else.
DM: Who wrote the letter.
M: Who wrote the letter?
DM: Who wrote it?
M: Did you bring this letter here?
C: I bring. This is my writing
M: This is not your writing.
C: This letter is coming from Parliament.
M: I don’t give a monkeys, I don’t care where it’s coming from. Get in the real world.
M: You would like a pay rise. But the client says no.
M: V I will invite someone in especially to meet you.
C: Me too I will bring my solicitor
M: What can your solicitor do? Nothing. You are a very silly man you don’t know what you are talking about.
DM: You are refusing to sign this? Can you sign this sign this
C: No I am not signing it
M: You’re an idiot you shouldn’t sign that you don’t know what it is the problem is that he doesn’t know what he is talking about just creating problems
M: ….darling have you got anything on your phone?
C3: My phone?
M: Yeah? I dunno do you have a recording? Your fiddling with your phone oh are you recording?
M: Wonderful take it to the Union rep or whatever I’ve tried to tell you, We are tired.. we are tired I am not talking out here.
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