“Unity is strength and anything can be achieved if we are united as workers.”Juan, cleaner and UVW member
Latin American cleaners and members of United Voices of the World (UVW), at Latchmere Leisure Centre in Battersea have won a massive 16% pay rise, well above the current rate of inflation. Today, they received confirmation that from 1 October they will receive a 16% pay rise.
Their victory follows a ballot for industrial action which saw a 100% turnout and 100% yes vote and is the culmination of a campaign launched by the cleaners, all of whom are Bolivian migrants, for dignity, respect and a voice at work.
Latchmere Leisure Centre is owned by Wandsworth Council, who pay £3.7 million a year to Places for People Leisure Management (PPLM) to manage the centre.
The campaign launched in June saw the cleaners vote for statutory trade union recognition through the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), after their request for voluntary recognition by PPLM was rejected.
Juan, one of the cleaners and UVW members, says this is the outcome of collective action.“A proper living wage is a right for all, whether you’re a migrant worker or not. If you don’t have a living wage it is your duty to fight for it. The bosses will try to deny you your rights and try to bring you down, but you have to keep going. Unity is strength and anything can be achieved if we are united as workers”, he told us upon hearing the news.
Marco, another cleaner and UVW member, called for others to join in the fight. “UVW works for and fights for workers’ rights and I have felt their full support. The fight continues however and I call on all workers; if you have any issues with your employers or any issues at work, join UVW so together we can fight for change.”
The cleaners will continue to negotiate the terms of their recognition agreement with PPLM, which will grant them the right to negotiate on a yearly basis dignified working conditions and pay.
According to Petros Elia, general secretary for UVW, this is a huge win, because “These brave cleaners have forced PPLM who have been paid £22m over the life of the outsourcing contract to redistribute their wealth with all leisure centre workers up and down the country. This is yet another example of low-paid migrant workers leading the way in their fight back against poverty pay.It is vital that we share the story of these inspiring workers, the cleaners at Latchmere Leisure. If they can do it, then so can you. UVW is here for you.”
The fight goes on!