22.05.2023 / Press releases /
Cleaners, carers and concierge workers, UVW members across the public and private sectors, have returned a massive mandate to strike for dignity, equality and respect.
The low-paid, Black, brown and migrant workers are joining forces across the following nine workplaces; an Amazon warehouse, a Mercedes-Benz showroom, London School of Economics, Streatham and Clapham private school, La Retraite state school, Sage Nursing home, the Department for Education, luxury apartments West End Quays and media powerhouse Ogilvy at the Sea Containers’ building.
Among the demands, the workers want a pay rise to cope with the increased cost of living. In some cases they are asking for a modest increase to the London Living Wage (LLW) of £11.95 per hour, such as at Amazon and Mercedes, which both behemoths have astonishingly refused, while some are demanding £13 and even £15 an hour. Others are asking for their lawful entitlement to annual leave pay and amended contracts which is being denied such as at the LSE; at Streatham and Clapham School the cleaners are calling for full sick pay and an end to outsourcing; and in the Department for Education the workers are demanding parity with civil service benefits while in other sites the workers are resisting detrimental changes to the timetable.
UVW members work early in the morning and through the night so that students, teachers, academics, sales people, office workers and civil servants can live, study and work in clean and safe spaces. They deserve dignity, equality and respect.
Magaly Quesada Herrera, a UVW member and cleaner at La Retraite, said:
“As a general rule the vast majority of cleaners get up between 4am and 5am. We have to work at least 10 hours a day to barely make ends and tend to work several jobs of 1-2 hours. The jobs are in different places which means we are on the streets for approximately 12 to 14 hours a day, eating many times in buses, far from our families and with hardly any rest. On many occasions our only contact with our children is during the week and over mobile phone.”
José Francisco Mora Varon, UVW member and cleaner at Amazon Warehouses said:
“For those workers that are not yet union members; I recommend that you join the struggle. Do not allow fear to defeat you. Don’t keep quiet. This is the strategy that companies use to make us believe that they are in the right, so that we let ourselves be trampled on and so that we let ourselves be pressured. We might not be working in handcuffs or shackles. But psychologically companies try to put pressure on us, they try to shackle us, so as workers we do not claim our rights. We don’t have to tolerate or allow any kind of bullying, any kind of exploitation or any kind of ‘modern day slavery’. To those workers that are already union members, don’t let your bosses divide you, don’t be afraid of losing your job because at the end of the day in almost every company in the UK the same thing is happening.”
Kadijatu Jalloh, UVW member and cleaner at the Department for Education, said:
“We are all frustrated and we are overworked, our demands are just and fair. They don’t talk to us right, they talk to us like children. We are parents, we have grandchildren, we have the right to be respected so we have come together as one. Just because I am a cleaner and they sit down in their offices it does not make them better than us or more important than us. When we strike they will know and see how important we are.”
Petros Elia, general secretary for UVW, said:
“The majority of our strikers are outsourced to third-party companies, which pay them poverty wages with the silent complicity of their very wealthy clients. It’s a disgrace that multinationals like Amazon or Mercedes-Benz make billions in profit on the backs of precarious, migrant and majoritarily Black and brown workers, while spouting moral values of equality, diversity and inclusion. UVW is at the cutting edge of a defiant, growing insurgent movement in which workers refuse to be disrespected, undervalued and invisible any more. Our UVW members will be reminding everyone on the picket line that enough is enough. We call on the union movement to join them in their fight for justice, dignity and respect.”
For further information, workers quotes, images and more details on the workers demands contact the UVW comms team.
Cristina: 07548 759340
Isabel: 07706 987443
Notes for editors
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’s migrant, precarious and low-paid members keep both public and private sectors running. Hospitals, universities, restaurants, warehouses, nursing homes – to name just a few – would grind to a standstill without UVW members working hard to keep them clean, safe and operating round the clock. But despite making up 18 percent of the employed population and contributing to the economy, migrant workers are more likely to work shifts, particularly night shifts, split shifts and weekends, to be in non-permanent jobs and to be in jobs for which they are overqualified, while on minimum pay and dismal conditions.
22.11.2023 / Press releases