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16.06.2020 / News / Press releases / /

Ark Globe Academy’s cleaners bribed with PPE on condition they “get rid of their union”

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
16/06/2020

Ark Globe Academy’s cleaners bribed with PPE on condition they “get rid of their union”

  • Ark Globe Academy’s cleaning contractor Ridge Crest has been caught on recording bribing  cleaners with offers of PPE and potential wage increases on the condition they leave their union 

  • Management resorted to the union busting tactic after a spontaneous two-day walkout by the cleaners on the 4th and 5th of June over months of unpaid wages

  • The cleaners have also complained of their “poverty wages”, lack of sick pay, lack of cleaning materials and have pledged to strike 

  • Ark Globe Academy has refused to cut  ties with their union busting contractor and is set to face legal action on grounds of race discrimination.

A cleaning contractor at Ark Globe Academy has been caught on tape withholding PPE and only offering it only on the condition the cleaners leave their trade union United Voices of the World (UVW). 

Prior to this the school was rocked by a spontaneous walkout of cleaners on the 4th and 5th of June in protest over months of unlawfully withheld wages by the contractor Ridge Crest. In some cases the amount owed was equivalent to around 5 weeks wages which put some cleaners at risk of eviction from their homes due to their accumulated rent arrears. 

Ark Globe Academy is part of the well-renowned multi-academy trust Ark Schools which is run by Absolute Return for Kids (Ark), an international children’s education charity founded by hedge fund millionaires, Sir Paul Marshall, Ian Wace, and Arpad Busson. Despite the wealth of the founders the cleaners are denied proper sick pay, only paid the minimum wage of £8.72, which is around 20% under the London Living Wage of £10.75, the widely recognised bare minimum required to survive in London. 

In recordings obtained by the workers’ trade union, UVW, high up Ridge Crest management can be heard offering the workers face masks and the possible payment of the London Living Wage on condition they leave their union. The recordings also confirm that Ark was “pretty annoyed” that the cleaners were even unionised or that the union was involved in the school at all. The manager says that they [Ark Globe Academy] were going to “hate us even more than they do” and “get their backs up” if the union didn’t go away. In the most shocking part of the recording it is said that “ultimately, I just want to shut the union down” and asking the cleaners directly, “are you going to lose the union?”

UVW has said that the recording shows such a patent and unrestrained form of union busting that legal proceedings will be initiated immediately and the value of the collective claim could be as much as £150,000.

UVW will also start legal proceedings against Ark Globe Academy for discriminating against the cleaners on grounds of their race. UVW argues that in outsourcing the all migrant and BAME cleaning force to a private contractor on the statutory minimum pay rates and terms and conditions of employment, rather than providing them with parity with the school’s majority white in-house staff that Ark are breaching their duties under the Equality Act and their additional Public Sector Equality Duty.

In a letter sent to UVW, Matt Jones, Executive Principal of Ark Globe Academy, didn’t even respond to the UVW’s allegation of race discrmination but did acknowledge the actions of his contractor were serious. However, he refused to meet with the cleaners or their union, and refused to investigate the union busting or sever ties with Ridge Crest. 

Petros Elia, UVW Organiser, said the following: “Ark Globe Academy is a disgrace. Firstly, they’ve chosen to outsource their cleaners on poverty wages and deny them sick pay – something which not only puts the cleaners’ health at risk but also the pupils; cleaners are essentially being forced to work when sick because they cannot afford to stay at home – on the minimum wage of £8.72 per hour they can’t afford to lose a penny. But if outsourcing them wasn’t enough, something which creates a two tiered racially segregated workforce in Ark Globe Academy – all the cleaners being migrants or BAME –   to then condone, or perhaps even encourage their contractor to infringe upon their human rights by trying to stop them from joining a union is utterly reprehensible. The Department for Education should investigate Ark Globe Academy for its complicity in union busting. We are pleased teachers at Ark who have reached out to us share our concerns for the treatment of the cleaners and we will fight tirelessly both in court and on the picket line to ensure justice is served.

One cleaner who wished to remain anonymous said: “Ark and Ridge Crest treat us like dirt, our money was stolen for months and some of us were on the verge of losing our homes! But now we’ve got UVW to support us we’re not going to back down, we will fight and strike and do whatever it takes to get Ark Globe Academy to realise that we are not the dirt we clean.”  

###

Notes to editors

For more quotes, information, and any other queries please contact:

Petros Elia, Organiser, Caseworker and UVW Rep. Email. petros@uvwunion.org.uk Tel. 07884 553443

Kane Shaw, Lead Researcher and Press Officer. Email. kane@uvwunion.org.uk Tel. 07950 92779

Legal action

United Voices of the World is in the process of taking a series of employers to Employment Tribunal by arguing that the outsourcing of BAME and migrant workers onto inferior pay and terms and conditions amounts to indirect discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. The case has already been filed against the Royal Parks (see here and here), a charity set up by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to tend to manage the Queen’s estate, and is due to also be brought against the Ministry of Justice (see here) and Great Ormond Street Hospital. The legal argument can be accessed in full here.  

Audio recordings

For a copy of the audio recordings of RCCS management engaging in trade union victimisation please contact Petros Elia at petros@uvwunion.org.uk 07884 553443 or contact Kane Shaw at kane@uvwunion.org.uk 07950 927798

Strike demands

The cleaners will go on strike to demand: 

  • London Living Wage (£10.75 per hour)

  • Occupational Sick Pay

  • Trade union recognition

  • The creation of a worker led Health and Safety Committee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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