As we move into 2021, we have many reasons to feel optimistic. Vaccination against COVID-19 is underway, which we hope will enable our lives, and our economy, to start to get back to normal.

But of course, there will be tough times ahead, and difficult decisions to be made. Like many businesses, here at Just Helpers we have cut down on non-essential spending, and adapted  so that we can survive this difficult period.

A cut too far?

When you are looking at your expenses, cleaning might seem like an easy place to reduce costs – particularly if you outsource it.  It may well be an easy thing to find a cheaper cleaning provider, and cut back on your cleaning bill with one, quick decision.

But it is at these challenging times that it is most important that we all focus on our values. The cuts we make in order to survive must not be at the expense of decent working conditions or fair pay.

So my question to you is this – how is that other, cheaper cleaning contractor keeping its costs so low?

  • Are the people coming into your premises to clean being paid the London Living Wage?
  • Are they trained to do their work safely? Do their working conditions reflect your values?
  • Worse still – are they being exploited?

In plain sight

I have seen first hand the exploitation of migrant workers taking place in our cities, and in the cleaning industry in particular. In the cleaning sector, it is estimated that 60% of workers receive less than the Living Wage. Our ethical running mate Clean for Good  stated in a recent report that when recruiting cleaners in London they found “a surprising number reportedly being under-paid in their previous job, or having wages paid inaccurately, or even not at all for some months.”

During January, we will be highlighting the work of organisations such as Itsapenalty.org and stopthetraffik.org who are drawing attention to the exploitation that may be happening on our doorsteps. In difficult economic times, the most vulnerable can be the people who fall through the cracks, whilst the criminal traffickers thrive on their desperation.

Putting values first

It is the responsibility of all of us to keep our eyes open to the exploitation that may be happening close to home and in plain sight. And in the tough months to come, let us ensure that cuts in costs are not at the expense of our values.

You can find out more about ending exploitation by joining our Facebook Group.


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