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25.05.2023 / News / /

Cleaners at Mercedes Benz jubilant after threat of strike action secures pay rise

“Receiving that letter with the news of the pay increase was truly wonderful!… To my colleagues in the other workplaces; continue the fight, do not give up, if we are able to achieve this win you can too”.

Maritza Bolívar, a UVW member and cleaner at Mercedes Benz

Low-paid, migrant workers at Mercedes Showroom in Colindale, London, have won a 25% pay increase after returning a strike mandate alongside 150 cleaners, carers and concierge in eight workplaces across Greater London in June.

The United Voices of the World (UVW) union members, outsourced to commercial cleaning providers SBFM Limited, that clean the Mercedes-Benz luxury car showroom were due to announce simultaneous strike dates in coordination with eight other workplaces after their demands for a living wage were ignored.

Maritza Bolívar, a UVW member and cleaner at Mercedes Benz Colindale, said this was a win for everyone and encouraged other workers in similar conditions to follow suit. “Receiving that letter with the news of the pay increase was truly wonderful! This is a huge achievement and without the support of the union it would not have been possible. To my colleagues in the other workplaces; continue the fight, do not give up, if we are able to achieve this win you can too. This fight is for everyone, and the achievements are for everyone.”

Her colleague and fellow UVW member Luz Adriana Castaño Vargas added, “We have achieved something fabulous because they had told us that they were not going to give us more than the minimum wage and they ended up giving us a raise. Thank you very much because without the collaboration of the union we would not have achieved this victory, so let’s keep fighting!”

Their win comes hot on the heels of an 11% pay rise earlier this month for cleaners  at the offices of global media company Condé Nast in the Adelphi Building in Covent Garden after UVW members threatened to take strike action. And closely follows another UVW win for a Mercedes showroom cleaners in Dartford following threat of a strike ballot.

Magnolia Peña Vargas, from Mercedes Dartford, congratulated her colleagues and stressed the importance of unity of low-paid and migrant workers in the fight: “Congratulations to all the workers who were going to go on strike and got a wage increase. I feel very good for all of us because we got something that was fair and necessary. The cost of living in the UK is very high and the pay very bad, so we will support the the comrades who continue in the struggle. We’ll continue to fight because this is about moving forward and supporting each other. We are the workers and we have to support each other, by joining and staying in the union so that we have a public face that says “This is the representation of the workers in the UK” because we alone are not being listened to. We have to be all together and have one voice. Let’s fight all together.”

SBFM informed UVW members they had managed to secure the uplift after discussions with the client on the Mercedes contract at Colindale. 

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. Synter Group, which recently bought the site, reported an 18% increase in revenue in 2021 to £5.4 billion, with a profit before tax of £178.1 million. 

Petros Elia, general secretary for UVW, said the unity of the workers and their resolve to go on strike if needed had proved once again to be their most powerful tool: “UVW members have won a whopping 25% pay rirse up from what they were earning when they first made their demands. That could not and would not have been achieved were it not for the unity and unwavering commitment of our members to strike for what is right.  All workers out there should take inspiration from this win. We have balloted nine groups of workers for strike action this month and we hope the other eight employers now follow suit and give our members what they need and deserve – proper pay and conditions wherever they work and whatever their job and dignity and respect.

Get to know the strikers here and their demands here and get ready to support them by joining their action group!

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