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Low-wage workers take it to the bank

Marketplace Staff Dec 20, 2006


SCOTT JAGOW: Oh I was just daydreaming about being a Wall Street investment banker. They’re gonna make $24 billion in bonuses this year. That shatters last year’s record by 17 percent. Goldman Sachs is giving its CEO $53 million. The next 25 people on the ladder will get $25 million each. They’re doling out those huge year-end checks at the investment houses in London as well. But the workers at the bottom of the payscale have decided they should get something too. Don MacGillivray has more.

DON MACGILLIVRAY: A couple of hundred angry janitors are chanting in front of the Merrill Lynch building in London’s business district.

Francisco de Silva earns $12 an hour.

FRANCISCO DE SILVA: We should be paid more because the money’s not enough. That’s not fair, that’s why we are fighting.

Union organizer Grant Williams moved from St. Louis to help coordinate these demonstrations. Three thousand people clean the bank’s offices, some earning as little as $20,000 a year.

Williams says it’s time for the traders and directors to share a bit of the wealth with these janitors.

GRANT WILLIAMS: No one has called them on it before. They’re making these huge profits, huge bonuses and they’ve been having a great time. Just finally now we’re exposing what’s going on.

The banks says cleaning is contracted out and demonstrators should take their complaints to the companies that employ them.

In London, I’m Don MacGillivray for Marketplace.

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