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01.11.2015 / News /

Hamlet-Themed flash mob in Barbican Centre

UVW, Boycott Workfare plus dozens of other trade unionists and activists including Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, joined together to protest at the Barbican on Sat 31st Oct, for the 4th time in recent months, demanding:

1) a real living wage;
2) contractual sick pay;
3) an end to trade union victimisation;
4) an end to Workfare.

Find more pictures here:

Cleaners Union Hamlet-Themed flash mob in Barbican Centre London, 31 October 2015

Natalie Bennett supports cleaners protest at the Barbican Centre, 31 October 2015

United Voices of the World ‘Flashmob’ The Barbican Centre in London, 31 October 2015

More details here:

The cleaners won the London Living Wage back in 2013 but have since been fighting against trade union victimisation, calling for contractual sick pay and the backdating of the Living Wage to 1st November every year when the new rate is introduced. Currently the contractor MITIE, and the Corporation of London which owns the Barbican Centre, only pays the new rate from 1st May leaving the cleaners on poverty wages for 6 months of the year.

SSP is set at £88.45 per week and only kicks in from the 4th consecutive day of illness related absence. So, for the first week they take off work due to illness or injury they will only receive £35.38 thus constraining them to work when sick. UVW believes this is unacceptable.

The Barbican Centre promised to meet with UVW to discuss the issue of sick pay and the Living Wage but they have now decided to spin the line that becasue the cleaners are outsourced they are no longer reponsible for their pay. As they weren’t willing to talk ti us in private they therefore left us with no choice but talk to them in public by carrying out direct actions.

When we first asked for contractual sick pay the manager at the Barbican Centre, Graeme Jones, and an HR rep for MITIE, Ben Myers, called a meeting with all the cleaners the following morning and told them that if they protested they would be dismissed. That meeting was recorded and a transcript was sent to the head of Employee Relations at MITIE, who refused to take any action in light of these disgusting and unlawful threats thus, essentially, endorsing them. This is unacceptabe and despite the Barbican being infrmed of these unlawful threats they decided to take no action, thus implicitly endorisng these threats.

To top it off the Barbican hires the contractor MITIE that uses Workfare which is exploits the unemployed byb forcing them to work full time merely to receive job seekers allowance. The Barbican shoudl not be hriing contrators that spolit the unemployed.


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