On the 4th and 5th of June UVW members employed by Ridge Crest Cleaning and working at Ark Globe Academy in South London walked out after months of unlawful wage deductions, lack of Personal Protective Equipment, lack of contractual sick pay, and lack of a safety assessment having been carried out. What followed was an attempt by Ridge Crest to bribe UVW members with PPE and the London Living Wage in exchange for them leaving UVW – a blatant case of union busting and a violation of the workers’ human rights to trade union representation and membership. Below is an edited transcript of several calls between Ridge Crest manager Emma McNabola and an unnamed UVW member. Certain names have been redacted and some passages removed to protect identities. UVW will be publicly releasing the full audio clips shortly and has made clear to Ark Globe Academy and Ridge Crest Cleaning that they have until the 17th of July to recognise UVW and to begin entering into negotiations with UVW to ensure the cleaners are brought in-house, provided with contractual sick pay, the London Living Wage, and that current unlawful disparities in pay between male and female workers is immediately rectified. Failure to meet these demands will result in the commencement of strike action.
Emma McNabola: I just want to find a way to move forward quite peacefully rather than going through .. uh… all of the unions, obviously, I’ve spoken before about the London Living Wage and ultimately that’s what, what I want to push forward with .. um.. and I want to work with you to obviously get that and we’re hoping that you know after the anniversary of the year’s contract we can, we can get that, but I think it’s important in order to get that…
Emma McNabola: …that we work together and go back to Globe and show them what a good job we can do, I just don’t feel like getting, you know, tarnishing Ark’s name…
Emma McNabola: …and getting everyone involved is going to get us the best outcome, and I know the unions are going to say different because obviously, they want a bit of an argument and a bit of a fight but ultimately, you know, we’re not, I don’t think we’re going to win that battle with Ark, I think the only way is, our best chance of getting that London Living Wage is which they’ve already told us, is, when the year anniversary is up, so in January everybody then goes up to London Living Wage because that’s when their new budgets come into effect and they can budget for that…
Emma McNabola: …but I don’t feel like going through the unions and not coming into work is gonna help our case for that
Cleaner. Yes okay, umm yeah that’s, umm, and about the, regarding about the masks, definitely you, you, what you can with that because they, they request that
Emma McNabola: I can pick you some masks up from the office and drop them into you, if you guys feel safer and comfortable with masks,
Emma McNabola: and it means everybody goes back and gets rid of the union and, you know, we go back to being a nice civil environment,and everything’s okay, then yeah, okay, let’s, you know, I can get some masks there for you Tuesday at the latest.
Emma McNabola: With now this big political, umm, union campaign when ultimately, you know, occupational health and things like that, we’re probably not gonna get all of those things out of it, you know, face masks I can get and I can get that sorted; your pay queries are done and all sorted, and,you know, if we move forward, get rid of the union, you know, we can, we can fight together with Ridge Crest and ARK to get that pay rise in January and that’s what we were always working towards and [name redacted] even agreed that so,
Cleaner. And about sick pay, what do you think about that
Emma McNabola: About sick pay, ahh, you know, I can’t, I can’t promise all of that, that’s not something I can do and I’m not in a position to do that but…
Emma McNabola. Umm, ultimately, I don’t think you’re gonna get that even through the union, coz that’s nothing that ARK do across the board, I don’t even get paid sick pay
Emma McNabola: So I just wanted to, like I say, have a civil conversation, apologise for all of the pay queries, and see, you know, if we can move forward together, get you that London Living Wage,
Emma McNabola: Get you the face masks on-site and just drop the union and the campaign altogether and go back to work on Monday.
Emma McNabola: But obviously I just wanna know your thoughts on that
Cleaner: Okay umm, but I tell you something, ummm, all the cleaners was… this money very very very angry about this situation and, ummm, you know, sometimes for them it’s difficult coz they have to pay rent, they have to pay bills, they have to pay, everyone, you know, we have to pay
Emma McNabola: But yeah, you know, today’s conversation, I just wanted to one, apologise and just see, hopefully, that we can move forward after today now all the pay queries are sorted and try and umm,yeah, you know, get the union out of it, and work together with me, coz ultimately the unions are not gonna, you know, they’re not gonna, they’re gonna fight but they’re not gonna fight nicely which is only gonna get ARK’s back up.
Emma McNabola: I personally think that the best way of proving that we deserve that pay rise, which I’ve already agreed with, ummm…is, because, you know, we’ve proved what a good job yous have all done…. so I just, I just wanna like, ultimately, like I say, I just wanna shut the union down and try and work together with Ridge Crest and our staff with,with ARK and get you the pay rise and things that we deserve, I think, ultimately, ultimately, it’s not gonna have a good outcome if we keep going through the unions especially if we do strikes and stuff like that…
Emma McNabola: It’s unauthorised and HR, technically, could get involved and I don’t wanna go down that road, route, this is what I’m ringing for because if we can just end all of this now, the pay queries have been sorted, we’ll obviously, ultimately, get those facemasks on site and we will get, ummm, we will, obviously, (unknown sound), speak to [name redacted] and get that pay, pay rise in January which she’s always said that she’s committed to do, it’s just the budgets …
Emma McNabola: That’s where, you know, that’s me having an honest and frank conversation with you and apologising for getting in this situation really and, you know, just moving forward from it without the unions causing too much trouble for, for us and for ARK and building a bad relationship and, and causing us a lot more problems than they will actually be solving them.
Emma McNabola: Okay, so I just wanna know really what we’re gonna do moving forward? Is it the case that we’re gonna lose the union and you guys are gonna come back on Monday?
Emma McNabola: I think the union are gonna, you know, I think, you know, I genuinely believe they’re gonna cause more trouble than they’ve, what they are actually gonna be helping you.
Emma McNabola: so, just need to know with the union….. are they not involved any more and that’s it? Erm So, yeah, so just…my last question…obviously it’s great everyone’s going to be coming back to work, so….is it the case that the unions are now not going to be involved and we can get the face masks and everything in for Tuesday?
Emma McNabola: Yeah, just let us know because, obviously they [UVW] will try and say, “we’re going to fight for your rights” and “we’re going to get you this” and “we’re going to get you that”, but ultimately the unions don’t have that power to do that. It’s only Ark and Ark are going to get annoyed if the unions are involved and they’re gonna…. ….it’s just going to get their back up I feel…………
Cleaner: Oh. Right.
Emma McNabola: So I just think we’ve got a better chance of getting the London Living Wage without the unions involved – causing a load of hassle….. I just think it looks better if we get rid of the unions and work together to get London Living Wage…The school are pretty annoyed that the unions are even involved and putting those tweets up, so I don’t want to upset the school so that they don’t give people…. what you guys deserve, which is the right wage. …….so
Emma McNabola: You know the reassurances I can give and what I said on Friday that you know I can’t guarantee any of those things and I don’t want to lie to you and say that I can but I still believe we still have a lot better chance of fighting for those things without the union causing a lot of trouble
Emma McNabola: You know I think we can get the London Living Wage, but I don’t think we’ll get that until the end of this year given the budget. So that will be done if that does happen it’s not going to happen like tomorrow.
Emma McNabola: I don’t want to sit here and promise you all these things when I can’t deliver them, but all I can reassure you is that I still think we’ve got a much better chance of fighting to get a lot of those things with Ridge Crest and us rather than with the union. Because all the union is going to do is cause a lot of trouble and make Ark hate us a lot more than they already do.
Emma McNabola: So that’s more reassurances I still think we’ve got a lot better chance of trying to get a lot of those things with Ridge Crest fighting with Ark Schoolsthan the union.
Emma McNabola: Alright? And like I say I don’t want to sit here and promise you the world. Because I can’t promise you that but all I can promise you that you know I have already spoken to you about the London Living Wage and its already been agreed on the second year of us taking over the contract we will get that which is at the end of the year… and I can get the masks on site and you know I just feel like all the union have done so far has called a lot a lot of trouble and they haven’t you know they are not going to have an overall say in what you get what they’re are going to do is cause a lot of trouble and get everyone’s backs up and probably not get the outcome that you wanted anyway.
Cleaner: Alright ok
Emma McNabola: I don’t want to promise you the world and deliver on nothing but that’s my opinion is that we work together myself you and [name redacted] and [name redacted] we would have a lot better chance than getting those things first than working with the union.
Cleaner: Hmm… alright I will explain them
Emma McNabola: Let me know….that’s ok… just let me know what they decide because I need to speak to Ark. I’ve got a call at 11 o’clock. So, we obviously need to come up with a plan what way we go down because we are having to fight the union it’s going to be hard. But if we don’t then it will be a lot easier to kind of get you guys on board with Ark. Just let me know by tomorrow morning yeah?
21.05.2021 / La Retraite