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The TUC is today (Monday) calling on government and employers to deliver pay rises and better conditions for the cleaners and security guards who are keeping the country going through the Covid-19 crisis.
  • New report reveals low pay and poor working conditions experienced by cleaners and security guards on coronavirus frontline 

  • Union body says ‘at risk’ workers deserve to be recognised for the contribution they make 

  • Years of outsourcing and undervaluing has increased in-work poverty for cleaners and security staff 

The TUC is today (Monday) calling on government and employers to deliver pay rises and better conditions for the cleaners and security guards who are keeping the country going through the Covid-19 crisis.   

A new report published this morning – to mark International Justice Day for Cleaners and Security Guards – reveals that low pay and job insecurity are still rife in both sectors.   

At risk but poorly paid 

The report highlights how people working in low-paid, elementary occupations have suffered the highest death rates during the crisis, with security guards experiencing the highest mortality rate of any profession. 

But despite subjecting themselves to huge risk many remain on low pay and on insecure contracts.  

TUC analysis shows that cleaners earn, on average, a third (32%) less than the median worker. And that security guards earn a /quarter (24%) less than the median wage. 

Six in ten cleaners are paid below the real living wage (£9.30 an hour) and four in ten security guards are paid below this benchmark. 

In addition, cleaners and security guards are twice as likely to be on zero-hours contracts than the workforce as a whole. 

Outsourced labour 

The report says the large-scale outsourcing of cleaning and security services has led to a marked deterioration in pay and conditions. 

Cleaners and security guards in the private sector are paid less than their public sector counterparts. This is particularly the case for security guards where the median hourly pay in the private sector is nearly £3 less than in the public sector (£9.15 and £12.05 respectively). 

Entrenching inequality 

The TUC says BME people are disproportionately represented in both professions with poor working conditions and pay compounding wider labour market inequalities. 

The report calls for the government and employers to work with unions to ensure there is: 

  • Fair pay and decent contracts for all cleaners and security guards 

  • Safe working conditions and adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)  

  • Recognition, dignity and respect for cleaners and security guards as key workers and appreciation of the risks they have faced during Covid-19 

  • Insourcing and responsible procurement to restore terms and conditions 

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:  

"Cleaners and security guards have played a vital role during this crisis, often at great personal risk.  

“It is not right that so many are on low pay and on insecure contracts. The government and employers must do more to value the contribution these overlooked key workers make. 

“That means giving them the PPE they need, bringing services back in-house and working with unions to improve pay and conditions. 

“It is the very least cleaning and security staff deserve.” 

International Justice Day for Cleaners and Security Guards is being marked in countries around the world. 

Eddy Stam, head of property services at UNI Global, said:  

“We must make sure we all workers by ensuring access to personal protective equipment, COVID-19 testing, decent pay and union representation. 

“We can stop COVID-19 by taking care of each other and by expanding workers’ rights.” 


Editors note
  • The analysis on cleaning and security staff pay is from ONS Labour Force Survey (Q2 2019 – Q1 2020)  

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