Many cleaners and workers in the service industry are used, abused and exploited—and often feel powerless to do anything about the situation. This is not true. You don’t need to passively accept what is being done to you. You can join CAIWU — the Cleaners and Allied Independent Workers Union.

CAIWU is an independent workers union designed to help organise cleaning and facilities workers in all workplaces. In CAIWU, all members have equal rights and an equal voice in the running of the union. CAIWU differs from traditional trade unions. Experience tells us that as workers collectively we have tremendous potential power. However, we can only apply collective strength through organisation. If we are organised and united we will get respect from employers, we can negotiate from a stronger position, and our campaigns are more effective – together we can achieve more than we ever could alone.

Traditional trade unions often divide the working class by job, grade or occupation. An example is the way some train drivers belong to a different union to station staff. We have also seen the shameful practice of certain unions breaking the strikes and opposing the campaigns of other unions. Some unions have lost their way, and function more to control workers than advance their interests. They accept membership dues, but fail to protect their members even from basic problems at work. Even worse, some traditional unions have virtually abandoned workers such as cleaners, hotel and retail workers. That's why we need CAIWU!

CAIWU is founded on the principle that our members are the union, and the members make the decisions. From top to bottom, there is democracy and openness in how the union is run and how it negotiates with employers. CAIWU's employees and officials will never negotiate on your behalf without your direct involvement in the process.

The strength of CAIWU is that it aims to really achieve unity and solidarity; we recognise that our interests are linked together with other cleaners and other workers. Divided, we are bullied and exploited. If you work you need a union. The point of a union is to get a say in how you work, your wages, your working conditions, and how to improve the welfare of the members. Organised in a union we can offer each other practical support and assistance.

In CAIWU, whilst tackling the everyday problems at work, we do not lose sight of the fact that we need a reconstruction of society—we need a society where we don’t have managers but democracy at work. A society without wage–slavery; one where we don’t work just to earn someone else a profit. We need a society without classes; one fit for human beings.

Who is CAIWU for?

CAIWU is an independent workers union which is growing rapidly. We are assisting those who work for cleaning contractors, along with workers across the service sector. When you are organised you are no longer a ‘vulnerable worker’, you don’t need to accept intimidation, workplace abuse or low wages. Get organised – join CAIWU.

We are NOT:

  • full of stifling bureaucracy
  • linked to any political party
  • led by fat cat salary-earners who carry out deals with bosses behind your back
  • going to try and sell you services, life insurance or credit cards.


  • Help you get respect at work
  • Help you get organised
  • Fight to improve your wages and conditions
  • Work to put a stop to abuses and exploitation