The disgraceful truth about John Lewis that the mainstream media is ignoring [IMAGES, VIDEO]

Support us and go ad-free

The retail giant John Lewis has come under heavy criticism for the treatment of some of its workers. United Voices of the World Union (UVW) say the retailer is ‘denigrating’ its cleaning staff and treating them like ‘second class citizens’ compared to regular employees. But while this is going on, the mainstream media are choosing to focus on John Lewis’ Christmas advert – not its treatment of its workers.

Second-class citizens 

John Lewis outsources the contract for cleaning to Compass Group. The company pays over 3,000 of them a mere £7.35 an hour. John Lewis’ regular staff get £8.20. The cleaners get £7.35 even if they work in London, where the recommended Living Wage is £9.75. And they have no access to the company’s famous ‘partnership’ model nor the annual bonus. UVW claims that:

Every year in store the annual bonus is publicly announced. This means the cleaners are forced to watch everyone celebrate and then sweep up the confetti and mop up the spilt champagne as a cruel reminder of their second class status within John Lewis.

The retailer’s profits for the six months to July 2016 were £81.9m, a fall of over 14%. But John Lewis has still managed to increase the pay of its workers by around £33m. At the same time, the cleaners only saw a pay increase of 6p per hour. UVW have been campaigning for the cleaners to receive “parity of pay and terms and conditions of employment with in-house staff”. It demanded that John Lewis respond to what it called “reasonable demands” by 1 November.

John Lewis shut down

But the retailer failed to acknowledge the issue. So, on Saturday 5 November UVW held a demonstration outside John Lewis’ flagship store on Oxford Street. The cleaners, UVW members and supporters demonstrated outside the store for over two hours:

uvw-john-lewis-2

uvw-john-lewis-1

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

The organisers branded John Lewis a “sham” for operating a two-tier system regarding its staff. They said that the protest marked a clear statement of intent to embark on a sustained and robust campaign. The protesters surrounded the entrances to the store, stopping shoppers from entering. They also brought traffic to a standstill along Oxford Street on several occasions as they blockaded the road on both sides:

uvw-john-lewis-1

 

uvw-john-lewis-4

 

Fighting for dignity 

The police were out in force, with around 30 officers present at one point. But campaigners said the presence was disproportionate, as the protest was peaceful with only around 40 people, including children, in attendance. Passers-by gave their support to the demonstration. Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) and Class War also attended the protest. And the UVW action had a noticeable effect. Protesters blocked the entrances to the store, and traffic on Oxford Street was stopped for around 20 minutes.

No representative from John Lewis would come out to speak to UVW on 5 November. The Canary contacted the retailer for a statement, but no one was available for comment.

UVW says that “the dignity and respect of the John Lewis cleaners is non-negotiable”. But it would seem that the retailer does not echo this sentiment. And the press are only interested in John Lewis’ latest Christmas advert. So, the UVW and its supporters will continue to raise the issue of John Lewis and its creation of a group of ‘second class citizens’ until the cleaners get equality and justice.

Get Involved!

Support the UVW Union.

Follow the union on Facebook.

Contact John Lewis, telling them to review the cleaning contract.

Featured image and additional images/video via Steve Topple/Nicola Jeffery

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed