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Living wages for London cleaners (or the Olympic city will be a filthy city)

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Sandy Aird, Managing Director of London based Enhance Office Cleaning, has hit out at the many employers who do not pay the City's cleaning staff a fair day's wage.

Enhance has always paid staff the London Living Wage of £7.85*, not the minimum wage of £5.93. The company says that 95% of clients agreed the rate having identified their long-term benefits.

"How do contractors or employers of in-house cleaning staff think they can attract quality, reliable, conscientious staff for insulting rates?" asks Sandy.

"London will soon welcome the world to the Olympics. Our great City will be a showpiece and PR tool for the UK and offices, stadia, airports, transport, public places and the streets must be spotless. This is the call to action and great opportunity for our profession."

He believes it madness to pay cleaning staff an insulting national minimum rate to work in Central London when a high proportion of wages is spent on travel from outer zones. A £17.80 weekly bus pass leaves a cleaner working a five-day two-hour shift with £8.30 per day.

Without fair wages the cleaning business will continue its 100%+ staff churn which is bad for clients and hopeless for contractors who then spend extra time and money recruiting and training.

Enhance has proved that paying fair wages has attracted good staff with a service-oriented attitude. They view cleaning as a longer-term opportunity with promotion prospects - that's good for client, employee and contractor.

Under The Pensions Act (2008) I am also pleased to see that contractors will, from 2012, have no choice and cannot opt out of providing a Qualifying Workplace Pension Scheme for all employees earning above the NI threshold, with at least a 3% company contribution. In addition as is often the case today, these schemes will no longer be administered by the pension provider but by the employer. Yes, this will incur an on-cost to the client but our customer discussions to date indicate that they appreciate their own staff are beneficiaries of such schemes so why exclude sub contractors' staff from similar benefits? This is a victory for common sense.

Already the private, public and third sectors have welcomed the London Living Wage. Barclays, KPMG, Lovells, Greater London Authority, London Fire Brigade, Transport for London, The Olympic Delivery Authority, most London universities and colleges, Greenpeace, The Food Commission and many other organisations have adopted this initiative.

Andrew Large, Chief Executive of the Cleaning & Support Services Association is wholly supportive of Enhance's attitude to the Living Wage. He says: "I am delighted that Sandy has focused on the fact that people are the future of a service business. London is one of the most expensive cities in the world and I hope that this initiative to pay all staff the London Living Wage will be a shining example to others."

Sandy continues his 'Fair wages for the 110,000 London cleaners' campaign in the hope that others will follow and result in better work from a stable workforce and that the cut price operators paying slave labour rates will be forced out.

London's mayor Boris Johnson has now raised the London Living Wage to £8.30 per hour.

T: 0203 535 5555
W: www.enhanceofficecleaning.com

23rd June 2011

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