Making Class Politics Possible: Organizing Contract Cleaners in London


This article tells the story of community and union‐led efforts to re‐regulate the contract cleaning sector and to organize cleaners at Canary Wharf and in the City of London. It provides a historical overview of the campaign and highlights its innovative responses to subcontracted employment in the city today. The article starts by outlining anti‐essentialist approaches to the politics of class before using the campaign to flesh out what such politics might look like. In this case, the successful prosecution of class politics has depended upon the politics of class moving far beyond any particular workplace. Workplace issues have been recast as matters for the wider community engaging a diverse set of actors including workers, community organizations, contractors, clients, the media and London’s politicians.