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21.05.2024 / News / /

Cleaners declare ¡VICTORIA! at private school in South London

“We never had sick pay before, this is a big win for us, thanks to our unity and the support of our union that had our back all the way…. It felt like facing a lion and now I feel so strong and powerful.”

Judit Morales, Ecuadorian cleaner at Blackheath Prep and UVW member

Migrant cleaners at a private school in South London declared !VICTORIA! as they won an inflation-busting 15% pay rise, full pay sick pay and improved working conditions after they returned a unanimous vote to strike.

The migrant workers from Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Spain and Colombia who clean at the private school for the rich, won all their demands made in March this year, following successful negotiations with Blackheath Prep and the cleaning contractor Westgate. United and determined to down tools they negotiated a deal which averted strike action. They now have 15% more money going into their pockets every month, as well being able to take sick leave without loss of pay.

Santa Pérez, a Dominican cleaner at Blackheath Prep and UVW member said: “I am so happy for this win! This is not only a victory for us but also for other cleaners who come and work at the school. I am so happy with my union and what we have achieved together. The London Living Wage is important for me, a mother with four children. I will be able to do a bit better financially and now when I am sick I don’t have to worry about recovering or not being paid!”

The UVW members at Blackheath followed simple, tried and tested steps: made sure everyone joined the union, made sure everyone voted to strike and got ready to have the fight of their lives. They leafleted parents and cleaners about their struggle to put food on the table on the minimum wage of £11.44 per hour while Blackheath Prep school fees are up to £18,000 per year.

Representatives from the school for the wealthy in south London met with UVW officials alongside representatives from the contractor Westgate Cleaning to negotiate a settlement to the dispute. “We never had sick pay before, this is a big win for us, thanks to our unity and the support of our union that had our back all the way.” Ecuadorean cleaner Judit Morales told us.” Full respect to my union. I was involved in the negotiations, and I told the bosses what we needed. It felt like facing a lion and now I feel so strong and powerful.”.  

The cleaners also won a paid 30-minute lunch break and the same, improved contracts for all cleaners regardless of their start dates.

Cleaner Mohammed, from Spain, said: “Our union is the best, it helps us think about what is good for our future and our personal lives, and this is how we achieved this victory. I am so happy. I want all cleaners out there to join us so we get stronger, so I will be telling everyone about our victory.”

If you want to fight for your rights, join us here and if you are already a member get in touch here to find out how to get organised >>


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