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Orion Recycling Plant
Read the first-hand account of strike day one by Callum Cant .
UVW members at the Orion recycling plant in east London walked off the job on Wednesday 28th March in a historic and inspiring wildcat strike to protest against inhumane working conditions.
The 15 migrant workers, most of whom are Peruvian, took the courageous decision to stand together and fight, despite being told to 'fuck off' by their foreman, and threatened with the sack.
Within only 19 hours of first coming to UVW offices in Elephant & Castle to speak out about the conditions they endure, they were on strike and negotiating with their boss in a mass meeting at the gates of their workplace.
The workers had never been members of any union before let alone been on strike, and much less a Wildcat strike. This shows what can be achieved in next to no time and at no expense with the right combination of inspiration, determination, unity, and solidarity.
They demanded and won a personal pledge from the company owner to provide them, by 9am the next day, with proper face masks, air filters, gloves, four pairs of protective overalls each, soap and toilet paper - and to provide showers on site within a month.
They also won a pledge to meet with the union to discuss a 25 per cent raise in the workers' minimum wage pay rate to the London Living Wage, plus occupational sick pay. They also received a personal apology from the site manager for abusing the workers, and walked off with the promise that for the day of this wildcat strike they would still be paid and not be victimised!
Stay tuned for updates.
The Ministry of Justice
*Update, 24th March: A decision following negotiations is expected by Friday 30th. Roger Godsiff MP has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament, which has gained 17 signatures so far! Strike ballots are being prepared...
- For the London Living Wage of £10.20 per hour
- Occupational Sick Pay
- 33 days of Annual Leave
- Separate changing rooms
The brave and inspiring cleaners - members of UVW and all of whom are migrants - are set to be balloted to strike if their demands for a living wage, and equality of sick pay and annual leave allowance with civil servants are not met.
If the strike goes ahead it will mark the first strike of any group of workers at the MoJ. Aside from their pay and terms and conditions the cleaners are also set to strike over the failure of the MoJ to provide them with separate changing rooms for male and female cleaners.
Furthermore, they are callously overworked due to unnecesary cuts in the numbers of cleaners which has left only 24 to clean the entire MoJ which is spread across 14 floors and 51,000 square feet.
The additional cost of paying the cleaners the living wage would only be £48,000 per year, which is clearly pocket change for the MoJ.
Stay tuned for updates.