Workers from the 3 Cosas University of London Branch Campaign group told Take Back the City that high rents and unscrupulous bosses were their top concerns.
Most of the group we spoke to left Ecuador after the country's 1998-9 financial crisis, migrating to Spain and then Britain. All now commute by bus from their homes in South London to work in Central London. The 3 Cosas campaign has had tremendous success in winning concessions from the University of London and highlighting the poverty wages paid to cleaners and other staff. "3 Cosas" means "3 things" and refers to sick-pay, paid holiday and pensions - three things that outsourced university of London workers were denied. The campaign has now turned its attention to trying to win the London Living Wage for cleaning staff. The IWGB union has also started organising cycle couriers, who we hope to speak to soon.
The 3 Cosas campaign highlights the importance of union organisation for poorly paid and vulnerable workers. IWGB reps told us that employers routinely broke laws on pay and conditions, and that only workers getting organised and acting collectively forced bosses to obey the law. The group told us that landlords behaved similarly: we need regulations on rent and tenants' rights, and new tenants' organisations to enfore them.
The IWGB union is an inspiring example of grassroots union organising. Elected workplace reps participate at every level of union activity, helping the union mobilise large numbers of workers for strike and protests. This bottom-up, democratic method is one we at TBTC seek to use ourselves.
The group decided to contribute three demands to the People's Manifesto:
- A London Living Wage for all workers.
- Businesses to respect the rights of workers in the cleaning industry.
- Rent control.