“This victory should tell them that this time they won’t get away with it, they have to pay our (owed) holiday pay and we will continue to fight until all the years we have worked are recognised.”Vilma Villamoros, LSE cleaner of 11 years and UVW member
After several UVW strikes and a group tribunal claim over years of ‘stolen’ holiday pay, the London School of Economics (LSE) has granted two years of backdated holiday pay, amounting to thousands of pounds, and a one off lump sum of £150 per person to their halls of residence cleaners. The LSE halls of residence cleaners are majoritarily UVW members and migrants from Latin America. But the workers are owed holiday pay dating back over six years and UVW and its cleaner members have vowed to continue their ongoing industrial and legal action to recover their full holiday pay entitlement.
“This victory should tell them that this time they won’t get away with it, they have to pay our (owed) holiday pay and we will continue to fight until all the years we have worked are recognised” says Vilma Villamoros, a veteran halls of residence cleaner and UVW striker.
The dispute over the ‘stolen’ holiday pay began when the cleaners realised they were only being paid holiday pay based on what is considered to be their “basic salary”, instead of taking into consideration the extra hours that constitute the lion’s share of their weekly income. Holiday pay should be calculated from the worker’s average pay during the previous 52 weeks, irrespective of whether the hours are written in their contract or not.
“We have done our hours every year, we have worked with honesty, during the pandemic when the bosses and others were away, we were standing up for the students of Bankside House and facing the consequences, but none of that is recognised”, explains Vilma. “ LSE has treated us very badly just for claiming the things they were doing wrong, for demanding our rights such as holiday pay including overtime and also for demanding that the hours we were working overtime be included in our contract. Although there is still a long way to go, we had to start somewhere.”
History tells us that LSE only stops treating cleaners like second class workers when faced with a UVW strike.The first time was in 2017 when UVW forced them to end outsourcing and bring the cleaners in house.
Following LSE’s failure to commit to paying the outstanding monies owed from the start of the cleaners’ contracts, the cleaners had no choice but to take three days of coordinated strike action in June alongside other low-paid migrant cleaners, carers and concierge.
A group legal claim followed in August, which is still ongoing as UVW cleaner members continue to fight for more years of back pay for holiday pay beyond the welcome yet limited two years of backdated pay.
“I want to thank the UVW team for all the constant support we have received”, says Vilma. “LSE doesn’t take us into account at all, they don’t pay any attention to us. UVW has always fought and continues to fight hard for the rights of the workers, unlike other unions that claim to be unions but are employers’ unions.”
LSE should know UVW members will always fight for their rights, they could have avoided both these strikes.
UVW calls on LSE to pay every penny they owe their halls of residence cleaners without delay and to begin negotiations with the worker’s union, UVW, to end this dispute once and for all.
The fight continues until all the stolen holiday pay is returned. If you want to support these workers, please consider sharing or donating to their STRIKE FUND here >>
Watch this space for updates.
16.01.2024 / HARRODS
20.12.2023 / Department for Education