University of South Wales cleaners win tribunal case

Private company unlawfully deducted pay from cleaners after agreeing to cover the cost of their travel time to a new site

Cleaners at the University of South Wales have won thousands of pounds in compensation after a private company unlawfully deducted money from their wages over 11 months.

The nine women (pictured), supported by UNISON, are employed by KGB Cleaning to clean the university’s ATRiuM in Cardiff.

Having worked at the Caerleon site up until its closure in July 2016, they were transferred to another site under an agreement that their travel time from Caerleon would be paid. However, KGB Cleaning reneged on this in March 2017.

After a two-day hearing, an employment tribunal found the company guilty of unlawful deduction from wages and breaching the national minimum wage.

UNISON has said that the University of South Wales now needs to reflect on outsourcing cleaning to contractors that exploit women in the local community. The union has called for all cleaning to be taken in-house by the university.

UNISON Cymru/Wales organiser Seb Cooke said: “A group of low-paid women being exploited have stood up to their multi-million pound employer and won.

“KGB Cleaning has unlawfully deducted the wages of staff who are earning just the minimum wage. These workers have shown that, even if all the odds are stacked against you, by remaining united in your trade union, you can be victorious.”

UNISON University of South Wales branch secretary Dan Beard added: “Cleaners ensure the campus is pristine before students and staff arrive. Had the university not outsourced cleaning work, those workers would today benefit from decent wages and conditions of service.

“The tribunal decision will tarnish the reputation of KGB Cleaning and raises moral questions on outsourcing. This can be put right by bringing the cleaning contracts immediately in-house.”