Justice Day: cleaners and security workers put 7 demands to the European Commission (video)

Monday 15 June 2020

Cleaners and security workers have been essential to keep our societies going through the crisis. More and more, people are recognising how important their work is to keeping everyone safe. However, their working conditions, pay and rights at work don’t match their contributions to society. Today, International Justice Day, cleaners and security guards put seven demands to the European Commission and to national governments to right that wrong. Collective bargaining is central to doing that.

“You can tell a lot about a society by the way it treats its cleaners and security guards. Right now, these professionals are paid an ever shrinking fraction of the income of those whose properties they service. Do we want to allow jobs to be poverty traps, that force people into precarity and desperation, or do we want to ensure that these essential workers can have the dignity and aspiration they deserve? On this day, they take a stand for justice. It’s time for those who make the policy decisions that shape our societies to step up,” said Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa.

Our 7 Demands

“We are the cleaning and security guards that have kept Europe going through the crisis. Our seven demands to the European Commission and to our governments are:

  1. Personal protective equipment: for the past few months, we have been working to ensure that hospitals, nursing homes, public buildings remain clean and safe. The European Commission and our governments need to make sure that we have personal protective equipment.
  2. Fair pay: we are among the lowest paid workers. If our governments are serious about tackling inequality, they should make sure that all their public contracts pay us a living wage.
  3. Skills and training: we are professionals yet too often we are treated like unskilled workers. We call on the European Commission to promote the upskilling of our professions, so that we can have a career for life rather than a lifetime of different jobs.
  4. Health and safety: cleaners work with dangerous chemicals and disproportionately suffer from musculoskeletal diseases. The European Commission and our governments need to increase health and safety standards.
  5. Just transition: robots will not replace us any time soon. The digital transformation of cleaning and security services should benefit workers, not increase our workload.
  6. Daytime cleaning: zero-hour contracts, part-time work, split shifts and night-time cleaning mean that many of us can’t send our children to school, help them with their homework or spend quality time with our loved ones. We need work-life balance too.
  7. Collective bargaining: the European Commission and our governments should promote dignity at work. Cleaners and security guards need union rights and sectoral collective bargaining.”

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