27.02.2024 / Press releases /

Amazon cleaners indignant as global companies save pennies off their sweat

  • Cleaners at Amazon, the third largest company in the world, are set to ballot for strike action over attempts to cut their paid break and remove their bank holiday enhancements
  • The cleaners, majority migrant workers and members of United Voices of the World (UVW) trade union, are outsourced to Mitie to clean warehouses in Ipswich and Enfield
  • As the lowest paid workers in Mitie and Amazon the cleaners also demand a substantial pay increase to over £13 an hour and full pay sick pay scheme
  • The cleaners are also planning legal action in respect of breach of contract and TUPE regulations.

Minimum wage cleaners at Amazon warehouses in Enfield and Ipswich are set to ballot for strike action over attempts to cut their paid breaks and bank holiday enhancements. 

The cleaners, outsourced to Mitie, part of the FTSE 250 Index, come from Latin America, Romania and England are the lowest paid workers in Mitie and Amazon. Yet in 2023 Mitie boasted a revenue of over £4 billion after expanding into several industries and businesses in the public and private sector and Amazon’s revenue was in the hundreds of billions last year.

The cleaners, members of UVW, are indignant that the wealthy companies are trying to save pennies off their backs by attempting to take away their paid breaks and reducing the number of days and hours worked by some cleaners. The cuts will only serve to impoverish the cleaners even further. 

The cleaners are fighting back against the attempts to cut their pay by preparing to ballot to strike and by taking legal action in respect of breach of contract and TUPE regulations. They also demand a substantial pay increase to over £13 an hour and a full pay sick pay scheme.

Some of the cleaners have claimed they were pressured into agreeing to changes ahead of consultation meetings and before they were aware they could seek support and advice from UVW. In the consultation meeting that took place this month, Mitie offered no justification for the changes and instead suggested their intention to increase the hourly rate to 61p above the minimum wage as of 1 April would compensate them for the cuts in other areas. UVW argues this is evidently not the case as the loss of pay of the paid breaks and the double time enhancement on bank holidays far outstrip the 61p increase.

Jessica, an Amazon warehouse cleaner and UVW member, said:

“I come from a country that lives in fear every day because of many circumstances, but where every day everyone gets up to fight and move forward. This helps me to understand that the only option is to fight for your rights, to defend what you think and what is right for you and for others. In the same way that big companies defend their financial stability I, as an ordinary person have the right to defend myself against their abuses. I feel that everything is for the convenience of the company, they don’t think about the workers at all. We are not just a number, we are people who need to work but  have a home and we have a family. Our bosses should have more humanity.” 

Casey, an Amazon warehouse cleaner and first time union member, said:

“ It feels like my job could disappear at any moment if I don’t comply with what feels like a forcible change of contract. I am already on minimum pay, I know there is nothing I can do by myself. This is the first union that I have ever been a part of, it’s the first time I’ve felt like I’ve needed to be in a union and I’ve had many jobs before. This all came out of the blue, they didn’t mention changes, they didn’t negotiate or talk to us. I’ve never felt so anxious.”

Petros Elia, general secretary for UVW said:

This situation is outrageous, bordering on the ridiculous and the pinnacle of corporate greed. In the end these companies are trying to steamroller through changes to make more money by attacking the lowest paid workers. We know from experience that UVW members are amongst the bravest, and Amazon cleaners are the most resolute, in the summer they lead coordinated strike action in nine different workplaces across London. The UVW family will back them all the way.”

For further information and interviews contact the UVW comms team.

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


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.


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