TELCO. , the east London community-led alliance, has won an important victory for its Living Wage campaign, which could have far-reaching implications for pay negotiations involving contracted private sector workers.

The alliance, of which one of Britain’s biggest unions, UNISON, is a member, has succeeded in
persuading Barclays Bank to accept responsibility for minimum pay and conditions
for contractor’s staff at its new London tower HQ in Canary Wharf.

Barclays bank breaks with other companies for historic

The agreement sees Barclays breaking with all the other companies in the
London financial district known as the Docklands.

It means workers will receive conditions in line with the “socially responsible” standards for which TELCO. has campaigned over the past two years.

Outsourced cleaners, catering and security workers in Canary Wharf and the
City tend to be drawn from the poor inner city and East End suburbs of London,
that surround the two financial centres.

Workers are typically paid just above the national minimum wage, with scant
holiday and few other entitlements.

As a result of the talks, cleaners at Barclays’ Canary Wharf offices will get
£6.00 per hour (less than a London Living Wage but above the current going
rate), a pension with 4.5% employer contribution, 15 days paid sick leave and
eight paid bank holidays, in addition to 20 days annual leave.

Bonuses and training are also included in the deal.

Now other companies must follow suit

Rev Paul Regan, TELCO’s chair of trustees, said: “Barclays’ commitment and
leadership on contractor pay and conditions is good news for communities in East
London, particularly if other companies now follow suit.”

UNISON national officer for bargaining
support, Deborah Littman, welcomed the development as a “significant
breakthrough” in the ongoing battle over pay and conditions for contracted

” We have finally succeeded in forcing employers to take responsibility for
the pay and conditions offered through their contractors,” she said.

First private sector agreement

” We’ve achieved such agreements in the public sector, but this may be the
first time we have stopped a private sector company passing the buck.

” The way TELCO went about this was to say that social responsibility, about
which most of these corporations make great play, is not just about the
environment and making charitable donations. It is about ensuring minimum labour
standards for anyone who is employed directly, or indirectly, by them.”

In the short term, Littman hoped the Canary Wharf victory would have a
knock-on effect for the 200 UNISON members who recently voted for strike action
at Barnsley District Hospital. The contractor effected by the Barclays agreement
is Rentokil Initial, the parent company of the contractor at the hospital, where
staff are currently on minimum wage and receive only five days sick pay a year.

” This is an indication that Rentokil Initial is capable of paying an
[acceptable] wage,” said Littman. “We hope they will take the same approach to
the Barnsley negotiations.”