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21.04.2023 / News /

Migrant cleaners at Mercedes-Benz luxury car showroom win 19.5% pay rise

“We were not asking for anything extraordinary, we were asking for a very reasonable increase, affordable and fair.”

José, cleaner and UVW member.

Migrant cleaners working at the Mercedes-Benz luxury car showroom in Dartford have Migrant won a 19.5% pay rise, on the eve of a strike ballot being issued, in a major win for UVW.

The cleaners had enough of earning poverty wages as the luxury car giant reported a whopping net profit of €23.4 billion for 2021.

When they begun their dispute, the cleaners were on a meagre £10 an hour, 50p above the minimum wage and 90p below the recommended UK Living Wage of £10.90 per hour. These rates were increased to the national minimum wage of £10.42 as it came into effect on April 1, but they were still not enough. Having endured a four-year pay freeze, their situation had become unsustainable with inflation skyrocketing to around 14% (RPI).  

The cleaners work in a Mercedes-Benz Retail Group UK Limited (MBRG) luxury car showroom, run by property services company CBRE Limited while outsourced to commercial cleaning providers SBFM Limited. All of these companies have been making healthy profits while the cleaners get poverty wages.

Magnolia, cleaner and UVW member, said the situation was unsustainable: “I’ve been working in this Mercedes-Benz showroom for four years with the same salary, and the longer I worked here, the less I took home because the cost of living is snowballing, making everything more and more expensive every single day; food, transport, bills… We reached the limit of what we can endure and we were ready to fight for a decent pay rise and better conditions.”

Mercedes-Benz confirmed an astronomical net profit of €23.4 billion in 2021. The current assets for Mercedes-Benz Retail Group UK Limited (MBRE) stood at over £217,000,000, while the directors’ remuneration soared at £257,000, over 10 times the cleaners’ annual income. 

For José, cleaner and UVW member, this is also about respect and recognition: “We were not asking for anything extraordinary, we were asking for a very reasonable increase, affordable and fair…. We were not just fighting for us but for all cleaners out there and all other workers who are in a similar situation to ours.”

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