There is a London Citizens event today that we were hoping to get the Cleaners' Voice song ready for.
Basically, London Citizens campaigns for a higher living wage for Londoners, because the cost of living here is so high. The minimum wage that is paid across the country doesn't cover the expense of living here, and the trade union Unison is raising awareness about, for instance, large banking firms and supermarkets such as Tesco who pay their cleaning staff as little as they can get away with in spite of their high profile and profit margins.
It is so easy to forget the importance of cleaners in our hygienic and relatively clean country. If you think of the volume of people passing through shops, museums, factories, educational establishments, transport hubs and so on, and the quantities of germs we carry with us on our feet, hands, bags, luggage and foodstuffs; yet we disrespect those who clean up after us as though it was them who were unclean!
I have been reading about the way cleaning teams are managed; often the cleaners are treated like work units, completely dehumanised (Madeleine Bunting, The Guardian, 2/5/11).
I must say that the group that Luis and myself have been working with are an amazing group of individuals: they are funny, supportive and conscientious. They know that they do a valuable and essential job but they also have aspirations.
None of them was born with a mop in their mouth and rocked in a cradle labelled 'cleaner'. If a better job in terms of pay and activity was offered to them, they would jump at the chance, but they have families to support and this is how they earn money to do that.
Rock on, cleaners, and anyone else who has a job that is not respected by society!