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09.04.2024 / News /

Cleaners descend on The Dorchester Hotel over the sacking of Peruvian cloak room attendant 

“I want my job back. I want my reputation back. I did nothing wrong. I don’t deserve this treatment. I’m not scared and I want justice.” 

Teresa Calixto, sacked cleaner and UVW member

On Saturday 6 April, over 50 members and supporters of UVW descended on The Dorchester Hotel in central London to protest against the callous and, we believe, unlawful sacking of our fellow UVW member Teresa, a former cloakroom attendant at the five-star hotel.

Teresa Calixto, a migrant cleaner from Peru, was subjected to seven hearings over five months, assaulted at work and asked to work through Christmas without a break before being sacked for trivial issues. She was paid poverty wages.

Teresa is bringing legal proceedings against The Dorchester for unfair dismissal. “I have worked very hard and honestly, giving 100% of my effort and being there when the Dorchester needed me”, she told us. “I’m indignant about the way I’ve been treated. It’s been so hard, I’ve had seven meetings and I’ve been left in total shock. I think my sacking was completely unjustified. I want justice and to clear my reputation,” she added. 

The Dorchester alleged she had failed to replenish a soap dispenser and pick up carpet fluff with a lint roll on one occasion and refused to reinstate her because of “the nature of her misconduct” and “the consequences for the hotel.” (sic) The hotel said it had ruled against taking an action short of dismissal due to the seriousness of the alleged offenses. We believe leniency is seldom afforded to Black, brown or migrant workers, with the threat of dismissal constantly hanging over them.

“I want everyone to know that us – the migrant cleaners – deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. All we want is to work, feed our families and pay our bills. In my long experience as a hospitality worker I have seen so many injustices committed against migrant workers in low-paid employment” says Teresa.

Teresa tells her story

I say enough of this mistreatment, of the poverty wages, of being ruthlessly discarded. I call on all workers in similar situations to join UVW and look for support, because we are not given the respect we deserve. Don’t stay silent. Don’t be afraid. Others may try to oppress us but we must be united to fight these injustices,” she adds,

The prestigious central London hotel charges £121.00 for tea and £816 per night for five-star service which is delivered to exacting standards by cleaners and cloakroom attendants like Teresa. Despite its extraordinary prices, workers like Teresa are paid poverty wages, way below the London Living Wage.

Many UVW members answered Teresa’s call to join her on Saturday 6 and the group of mostly migrant cleaners from Latin America, chanted “Justicia, Justicia” with mops and brooms as they marched to The Dorchester demanding to see the person in charge. 

The peaceful protest soon turned ugly, when security guards began to push, pull and drag cleaners, mainly women, to the floor leaving many shaken and bruised. Director of Events, Laura Prentice, who had been placed in charge of the Dorchester that weekend, was forced to intervene telling the security guards to “back away”. The five-star hotel called the police, who after speaking to UVW officials, allowed the protest to continue outside the hotel.  

Laura Prentice informed UVW officials she would look into the allegations of assault by her security guards. The cleaners are considering legal action against the Dorchester. 

Despite the outrageous aggression of the hotel’s security guards, we peacefully overpowered them in a spectacular display of solidarity, courage, and determination and sent the bosses at The Dorchester a message they’ll never forget. 

“I call on all my fellow workers to join me, to fight together and look for justice for all of us. Let’s not be scared. The bosses may have money and luxury and what not…  but we have dignity,” Teresa said.

Get in touch to join our action group >> organising@uvwunion.org.uk

Become a solidarity supporter here >>

Become a UVW member here >>

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