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UVW-SAW members show support for Atomik workers. Signs read: “Atomik Architecture, Let’s Negotiate!”.

14.09.2022 / Press releases /

Architectural workers threatened with redundancies as they initiate historic strike ballot

  • Workers at Atomik Architecture (Atomik) have been threatened with redundancies after they notified their employer that they are in dispute over pay and conditions
  • Yesterday, the Atomik workers informed their employer that they intend to ballot for strike action, in what could be the first ever strike by private-sector architectural workers in the UK
  • The workers are demanding a pay increase, reduced working hours, flexible working arrangements, paid training, and trade union recognition
  • Bosses at the architectural practice have refused to postpone a redundancy consultation meeting called for Wednesday 15 September to give the workers and their union, United Voices of the World – Section of Architectural Workers (UVW-SAW) time to prepare
  • After two years of uncertainty and low-wage growth, architectural workers are refusing to accept the cost of living squeeze whilst they deliver profits for their employers.

Following months of being ignored by management after raising issues regarding their pay and conditions, workers at Atomik, a London based architectural company, are initiating a strike ballot. In June 2022, some workers individually raised the matter of pay in their annual reviews. When they were ignored, they wrote a collective letter outlining their demands.  

UVW-SAW has been informed that after receiving the letter, management did agree to meet workers but refused to negotiate. During the meeting itself, the directors appeared to fail to understand the serious impact rising living costs were having on workers, and flat out refused to share financial information for the company, both of which left the workers frustrated and distrustful.

The workers were left with no choice but to notify their employer that they are in dispute over pay and conditions. They hoped that this would show Atomik that they are serious about these concerns, and meaningful negotiation could commence. But Atomik’s response was to trigger a redundancy consultation, which will most likely lead to dismissals. This came as a shock to the workers, who until recently were under the impression the company was looking to expand the number of employees.

Jake Arnfield, UVW-SAW representative, said:

“What we are hearing from our membership is that most workers are not getting the pay rises they need. In a sector which has had stagnant wages for at least 20 years the cost of living crisis is exacerbated – particularly for those at the lower end of the pay scale. Numerous groups of architectural workers are looking very seriously at industrial action as one way to resolve this. If even a single strike happens, it could trigger a wave of strikes in architecture this autumn and winter. If you work in architecture, we encourage you to get behind Atomik workers. Their success is part of the movement to raise wages and eliminate rampant exploitation in the sector.”

Atomik workers issued a joint statement:

“We are disappointed that Atomik has continuously dismissed and ignored our individual and collective concerns. We were expecting to collaborate to improve conditions at the practice but instead, we have had months of empty promises and zero progress. We have all worked at Atomik for a number of years, but that loyalty has not been reciprocated in meaningful improved pay or working conditions. We have been forced into this position, striking is our last resort.”

Petros Elia, general secretary of UVW, said:

“We believe our members at Atomik are the first ever group of private sector architects to ballot to strike, so if this strike goes ahead it will be an industry first, and one that all architects and members of the movement should get behind. UVW has shown yet again that there is no group of workers who are unorganisable, and whether you are an architect or a cleaner, you have the power and every reason to unite, fight and strike. I call on Atomik’s bosses to negotiate with us and avoid what could become incredibly operationally and reputationally damaging strike action which will receive the full support of our union. The choice is yours.”

For further information contact the UVW comms team.

Jim: 07749 765264
Cristina: 07548 759340
Isabel: 07706 987443

E-mail: comms@uvwunion.org.uk

Notes for editors

Atomik workers are demanding:

  1. A pay increase of 10% (at the time in-line with inflation), or to receive a 7% increase with a model of profit-sharing to be negotiated
  2. Reduced working hours – to reflect industry norms by reducing hours from 9-6 to 9-5.
  3. Flexible working arrangements – 2 days of remote working per week.
  4. Paid training – currently CPDs are required to be taken during unpaid lunch breaks.
  5. Trade union recognition – so that workers are collectively negotiated on pay and other changes to terms and conditions.

United Voices of the World – Section of Architectural Workers (UVW-SAW), is a grassroots trade union for architectural workers in the U.K. SAW collectively takes action and fight against the negative impacts of architectural work on workers, communities, and the environment.

United Voices of the World is an anti-racist, member-led, direct action, campaigning trade union and we exist to support and empower the most vulnerable groups of precarious, low-paid and predominantly BAME and migrant workers in the UK. We fight the bosses through direct action on the streets and through the courts and demand that all members receive at least the London Living Wage, full pay, sick pay, dignity, equality and respect.

UVW-SAW members show support for Atomik workers. Signs read: “Atomik Architecture, Let’s Negotiate!”.
UVW-SAW members show support for Atomik workers. Signs read: “Atomik Architecture, Let’s Negotiate!”.

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