Royal Opera House cleaners continue talks with outsourced employer after protest

16 Jun 2022 News

Workers protest outside Royal Opera House


Negotiations between cleaners and porters, who protested over working conditions at the Royal Opera House (ROH) last week, and their employer are ongoing after further talks were held yesterday.

On 10 June, members of the Cleaners and Allied Independent Workers Union (CAIWU) demonstrated outside the ROH building in central London, calling for paid rest breaks, contractual sick pay, holiday entitlement and full employers pension contributions.

CAIWU held further discussions with the outsourced company that employs their members at the ROH, DOC Cleaning, yesterday, claiming that in-house ROH staff work under better conditions.

And it accused the ROH of having “passed the buck” to DOC Cleaning over the dispute.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “The Royal Opera House values the contribution that all our employed staff and sub-contracted workforce make to our success. We uphold the principle of fair pay and have made a commitment to apply the London Living Wage to all employees, and those hired through sub-contractors.

“DOC continue to deal with this matter through their union consultation processes, and so it would not be appropriate for us to comment while this in ongoing.”

Higher cost of living

The union claimed that DOC Cleaning has abruptly changed their members’ rest-break patterns and taken disciplinary action against those who failed to adhere.

Alberto Durango, general secretary of CAIWU, said: “It is unfortunate that in this century, workers are subjected to disciplinary proceedings for simply wanting to be treated on the same level as the direct employees of the Royal Opera House.

“DOC Cleaning Ltd has used this tactic in other workplaces, of disciplining workers fighting for better conditions, clearly with the aim of injecting fear into workers to stop their dignified struggle.” 

Rafael Borges, a cleaner at the ROH, said: “Our struggle is all about putting our working terms and conditions up to date, so we become better able to stand up to the increasingly higher cost of living.”  

DOC Cleaning has not yet responded to Civil Society News’ requests for comment.

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