UK: Google's contracted cleaners threaten strikes over alleged labour violations & dismissal of union members
In October 2019, members of Google's contracted cleaning team in London went on strike over labour rights concerns and the dismissal of two union representatives. The cleaners, contracted by cleaning firm Principle Cleaning Services, say Principle has witheld bonus payments, refused to provide contractual sick pay, and has doubled their workloads by making workforce cuts, which has resulted in workers experiencing health issues. They are threatening further strikes if Principle does not address their concerns, and are publicly calling on Google to take action.
The Cleaners & Allied Independent Workers Union (CAIWU) says its two members were dismissed days before Principle was due to meet with CAIWU to discuss the cleaners' concerns over working conditions, in what it calls an "incredible coincidence."
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Principle and Google to respond to the alleged labour violations and the dismissal of two worker representatives. Principle said it is unable to comment on its internal investigation in relation to its two employees while it is ongoing. It said it does not recognise any trade union and CAIWU has refused its offers to meet. Google said as it does not employ the cleaners directly it is up to the contractor to determine their compensation and benefits. Both responses are included in full, below.
In a rejoinder, CAIWU said the dismissal of its elected union representatives on the eve of negotiations, combined with Principle's own response that it does not recognise a trade union, directly contradicts Google's Supplier Code of Conduct. CAIWU said Principle's claim that it has refused invitations to meet is not true. Further, CAIWU said its members working for Principle at Google have reported coming under sustained pressure to incriminate their colleagues, and are concerned about the possibility of facing victimisation themselves, having refused to do so. The full rejoinder is included below.