My name is Juliana (pseudonym) and I’m a cleaner at the Daily Mail - one of many, most of whom are from Latin America and Africa, who are paid the poverty wage of £7.50 per hour - below the living wage.
Like almost all the cleaners, I have a family, and with the wages that we earn it is almost impossible to have a dignified place to live and a dignified life. It is very hard because of the physical and mental strain you go through in order to fulfill your duties with your employer.
We grouped together and asked to be paid the London Living Wage of £10.20 per hour which would allow us to have an acceptable standard of living in the capital, to have an adequate level of warmth and shelter, a healthy diet, and allow us better integration and to avoid chronic stress.
In other words, the London Living Wage would enable us to live and work in dignity.
Instead of agreeing to our request to be paid a living wage, or to sit down and talk to our union United Voices of the World, the manager of the Daily Mail's contracting company MITIE threatened to sack us all if we ever strike. That threat was in gross violation of our trade union and human rights.
The biggest difficulty on such a low wage is having to work overtime in order to survive and we have very little time to rest. Being able to cover all your responsibilities that you cannot fail to meet such as rent, tax, food, transport, etc. I dream of being able to have an income that allows me to meet the basic needs of my family. And also, why not? Being able to afford at least one family holiday.
These offices are kept spick and span by a 100% migrant workforce. Sadly, the Mail have blamed migrants for depressing wages and yet the agency they employ choose to pay their cleaners the absolute minimum that is legally possible – a wage that keeps the cleaners in poverty - and then unlawfully suppresses any efforts to gain a pay rise.
This dispute makes it crystal clear: those who are really responsible for low wages are not migrants, but rich employers like the Daily Mail, whose editor Paul Dacre received a whopping £2.37 million in remuneration last year, a 50% increase on the year before.
Please support me and my colleagues as we face one of the hardest battles of our lives. I have never been on strike before but if we do it, it will only be to improve the life of my family.