“We don’t give up. We overcome our fear. We keep fighting. We stick together, we win”UVW striker and senior care worker Bile from Sage Nursing Home
UVW low-paid and migrant cleaners, carers and concierge workers took three days of coordinated strike action in June for sick pay, a liveable wage and improved working conditions. The majority outsourced workers defied the stone-dead silence of their employers, some of whom hid behind closed doors, by picketing together their seven workplaces in solidarity with each other and touring London on an open-top double-decker bus.
The strikers’ voices were loud and clear. “We are not the dirt we clean!”, “No more poverty pay!””End outsourcing now!”, they proclaimed as they rallied support from politicians, trade unionists, teachers, office workers, civil servants, students and residents in their local communities.
The workers, hailing from the billionaire global giant Amazon’s warehouse in Dartford and the publishing house Ogilvy at Sea Containers Building, the London School of Economics (LSE), the Department For Education (DfE), the Streatham and Clapham High School (SCHS), Sage Nursing Home and the luxury apartments West End Quays (WEQ), were united in their demands for DIGNITY, EQUALITY, RESPECT.
Winning, claiming and retaining basic rights at work and decent working conditions is a continuous struggle; as proved by the return to the picket line of the courageous LSE cleaners who six years ago in June 2017 won a historic fight to end outsourcing and be brought in house. Also back on the picket line were the brave Sage strikers who celebrated a huge victory after a protracted dispute over poverty pay and decent working conditions during pandemic times.
At five of the seven workplaces the strikers are outsourced workers and face a double battle. Not only must they fight against poverty pay, lack of sick pay, insufficient paid holiday entitlement and so on, they are up against the scourge of outsourcing, the subterfuge used by ‘clients’ to shirk their social responsibility and accountability towards the workers they indirectly employ.
The so-called ‘clients’ – Amazon, Ogilvy, DFE, SCHC and WEQ – and their respective external contractors – Phosters, Anabas, OCS, Zing Clean and Lee Baron – pass the buck back and forth when it comes to the strikers’ just and reasonable demands. The ‘clients’ say they have no power to intervene, or that is not their responsibility, while the contractors point the finger at the binding contracts agreed with the ‘clients’. UVW strikers know that the ‘client’ dictates the terms and conditions and that the practice of outsourcing is a cost-cutting move made at the expense of the workers’ material, physical and mental health.
UVW has a proud history of fighting the discriminatory practice of outsourcing at shop level, on the picket line and through the courts. Back in November 2021, we won a seminal court case at the Employment Tribunal, which established that the Royal Parks was indeed responsible for the inferior pay of their outsourced park attendants and toilet cleaners. This landmark victory is now under threat as it was overturned on first appeal and we are now fighting to have it reinstated at the Court of Appeal.
On the picket line, Labour MP for Streatham Bell Ribeiro Addy, local councillor Martin Abrams and Green Party deputy leader Zack Polanski as well as trade unionists from Unite the Union and the National Shop Stewards Network expressed their full support and solidarity with the strikers.
This three-day strike is just the beginning, struggle work continues. “We don’t give up. We overcome our fear. We keep fighting. We stick together, we win”, summarised seasoned striker and senior care worker Bile from Sage Nursing Home. And they will.
We call on members and supporters to stand shoulder to shoulder with the carers, concierge and cleaners. their win is our win!
If you want to support these brave workers, you can DONATE and or SHARE their strike crowdfunder.
You can also JOIN their action group for updates on the campaign.and details of how to join a picket line.
Get to know the workers and their demands here and SPREAD THE WORD using #uvwstrikes!
Or send a letter of protest to their employers. Takes 1 minute!
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