This is a summary of a talk given by Tim Thorlby, Managing Director of Clean for Good (and also Development Director of the Centre for Theology & Community) at an event on 10th July 2018 organised by Capital Mass, The St Paul’s Institute and Theos to mark ‘The War on Wonga: Five Years on’ A video of this, and other, talks given on the evening is available at www.capitalmass.org.uk
We start by listening
Clean for Good is a professional contract cleaning company. We clean offices, cafes, community centres and churches across London.
But we’re an unusual cleaning company. We’re unusual because Clean for Good was founded in a church – a Parish in the City of London.
This church noticed that as tens of thousands of well-paid City workers came to work every morning, thousands of badly paid workers were going home. Two different worlds passed each other on the pavement each morning.
The church listened to the stories from these workers; stories of low pay, unpredictable income and, often, poor working conditions. And they asked the question – what does Good News look like for low paid workers?
Their answer was to set up an ethical cleaning company which would provide the jobs, the living wage and the respect that the cleaners wanted.
So Clean for Good was set up to be Good News for cleaners in London.
Why does it matter?
It matters because 700,000 people in London, today, work for a living and yet still live in poverty – because they earn less than the Living Wage. (Figures from the Trust for London)
An Independent Foundation has worked out how much you need to earn to be able to live in London – and its £10.20 per hour, the current London Living Wage. It’s called a Living Wage, because it’s a wage you can live on. And it is 30% higher than the Government’s Min Wage.
These 700,000 people and their families are trying to live on the Minimum Wage and it isn’t working, because you can’t live on the Minimum Wage in London – it’s just not high enough. Our cleaners already know that. An increasing body of research is confirming it too – most recently, a report from the JRF.
The London Living Wage
The London Living Wage is an important part of why Clean for Good is different.
Every day we make two promises:
- We promise our customers that we will deliver a good professional cleaning service to them
- And we also promise our cleaners that we will treat them fairly and with respect
Our promise to cleaners means 3 things:
- It means that we’re a fully accredited Living Wage Employer – paying the London Living Wage to all of our staff, all of the time. Very few cleaning companies in London have made this commitment.
- Secondly, our promise to cleaners means that we also directly employ them – no zero hours contracts, no self-employment – our cleaners get a stable income and decent employment benefits – paid leave, paid sick leave and a pension
- And thirdly, we train and manage our cleaners and invest in them
This makes us pretty unusual.
There are good business reasons to pay a living wage to your employees and the Living Wage Foundation has published evidence on this. But the most compelling reason is a moral one; if we believe that every human being is made in the image of God – that people have more than just an ‘economic value’ – then we cannot accept wage levels that leave people living in poverty.
And we are all involved in this whether we like it or not. Every day, every week, someone empties our bins. They serve us. If it’s my bin, its my responsibility.
Who empties your bins at your workplace? What is their name? What do they get paid?
The London Living Wage is Good News for all low pay workers and the wonderful thing about it is that we don’t need to wait for any new legislation or regulation – any employer can simply decide to pay it today.
The widespread adoption of the Living Wage across London would be the biggest attack on poverty since the foundation of the Welfare State. It would lift 700,000 people, and their families, out of poverty.
I would encourage every employer to pay it – whether business, charity or public sector. No amount of philanthropy makes up for the lack of it. It’s not a question of charity, it’s a matter of justice; a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
As someone who runs a business in one of the most competitive and lowest paid sectors in London, I feel qualified to make this call. Our commitment to the Living Wage makes us one of the most expensive cleaning companies in London, but over the last year or so we have secured customers across London and now have a turnover of £1/3 million. If we can do it, so can you.
And if you need an ethical cleaning company – you’ll find us at www.cleanforgood.co.uk