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26.04.2023 / News /

Mass strike ballots for UVW cleaners, carers and concierges open on International Workers’ Day! 

“We need to go out together, it doesn’t matter if you are different workers in different workplaces.The most important thing is to be united”

Julia, UVW member at Sage Nursing home

Seven workplaces, seven strike ballots, one common purpose: fight together for better pay and conditions! United Voices of the World  (UVW) cleaners, carers and concierges from seven workplaces across London and the South East will be voting on strike action for improved pay and conditions as ballots open simultaneously on International Workers Day (May 1). This is set to be UVW’s biggest industrial action to date as members join the current strike wave across the private and public sectors. 

The UVW members represent cleaners, care home workers and concierges from both the public and private sectors, are all low-paid, Black, brown and migrant workers. While they come from a variety of workplaces – Amazon warehouses, Mercedes showrooms, London School of Economics, a prestigious south London private school and a state school, Sage Nursing home and luxury flats – their struggles and demands are similar: they want a decent pay rise across the board that reflects the increase in the cost of living, overtime pay, improvements in sick pay entitlement, enhanced overnight and weekend rates and conditions as well as union recognition, among others.

Francisco from Amazon said: “We need to be listened to, respected and treated with dignity. In the UK, there are many of us who feel bullied and harassed on a daily basis under constant threats of dismissal… All this on top of terrible salaries. We are living in a historic moment in one of the richest countries of the world. Workers are facing abuse, rampant inflation and not being paid enough. We cannot even cover our basic expenses meanwhile the cost of living continues to rise. We hope to encourage those who are afraid to complain to step forward and to not fear anymore. They are not alone. We say enough is enough, no more exploitation of migrant workers. Justice now!”

The workers will be casting their votes on strike action, after an unanimous vote at UVW’s Strikers’ Assembly on April 15, to coordinate strike walkouts and other actions for maximum impact. They know that unity is key. Some of the more seasoned would-be strikers had words of wisdom and inspiration for their comrades at the well-attended event: “We need to go out together, it doesn’t matter if you are different workers in different workplaces. The most important thing is to be united,” Julia, strike leader from Sage Nursing home, told the assembly. “If you don’t fight you will never have anything. You have to ask for a lot to get a little. So let’s fight but let’s fight together. It is the only way and with our union we can win. We went out on strike, we won some of what we asked for and now we are going again to get the rest,” she told the spirited crowd.

UVW’s migrant, precarious and low-paid members keep both public and private sectors running. Hospitals, universities, restaurants, warehouses, nursing homes – to name just a few – would grind to a standstill without our members working hard to keep them clean, safe and operating round the clock. But despite making up 18 percent of the employed population and contributing to the economy, migrant workers are more likely to work shifts, particularly night shifts, split shifts and weekends, to be in non-permanent jobs and to be in jobs for which they are overqualified, while on minimum pay and dismal conditions.  They deserve better!

Strike dates will be announced soon, so look out for ways to support the brave cleaners, concierge and care workers!  

Sign up to the solidarity network to get updates on what you can do, including details on the upcoming Strike Fund!

Let’s make this our summer of dissent!

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