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Protest at Barbican Centre

We are protesting FOR:
1) a real living wage;
2) contractural sick pay;

We are protesting AGINST:
3) an end to trade union victimisation;
4) an end to Workfare.

More details here: 

UVW have been engaged in a dispute at the Barbican Centre for years. The cleaners won the London Living Wage back in 2013 but have since been fighting against trade union victimisation, calling for contractual sick pay and the backdating of the Living Wage to 1st November every year when the new rate is introduced. Currently the contractor MITIE, and the Corporation of London which owns the Barbican Centre, only pays the new rate from 1st May leaving the cleaners on poverty wages for 6 months of the year. 

SSP is set at £88.45 per week and only kicks in from the 4th consecutive day of illness related absence. So, for the first week they take off work due to illness or injury they will only receive £35.38 thus constraining them to work when sick.

The Barbican Centre promised to meet with UVW to discuss the issue of sick pay and the Living Wage but they have now decided not to return our calls and have therefore left us with no choice but to resort to direct action to get their attention. 

Furthermore, since our last protest on 17th October the Corporation of London have told UVW that they are not reponsible for the pay or terms and conditins of emplyoment of outsourced staff. This is not true and is just a cynical attempt to wash their hands clean of responsibility. It is therefore up to us to hold them to account. 

When we first asked for contractual sick pay the manager at the Barbican Centre, Graeme Jones, and an HR rep for MITIE, Ben Myers, called a meeting with all the cleaners the following morning and told them that if they protested they would be dismissed. That meeting was recorded and a transcript was sent to the head of Employee Relations at MITIE, who refused to take any action in light of these disgusting and unlawful threats thus, essentially, endorsing them. 

There have been several other acts of trade union victimisation at the Barbican which MITIE and the Barbican Centre refuse to address: one of our disabled members was suspended because he came to work with a crutch allegedly in breach of health and safety regs. He had previously suffered an injury at work a year before and not been able to survive on SSP (being only £88.45 a week) so was left with no choice but to go back to work with the aid of a crutch. In response they threw him out and called the police on him because he refused to leave until they gave him something in writing. 

The same cleaner was then accused of having potentially aided an abetted terrorists by posting on Facebook a 10 second video of himself hoovering the Barbican Centre with a cast on his leg. How was he aiding and abetting terrorists we hear you ask? The reasoning MITIE gave was because the Barbican is allegedly a reconnaissance site for terrorists and by having posted a 10 second video of himself hoovering at work he was in breach of security by inadvertently providing terrorists with “information.”

Another cleaner at the Barbican is currently being disciplined by MITIE for having thrown a few drops of water on to the carpet of the Barbican Centre from a cup he wanted to put in the bin. The carpet was full of stains of wine, ice-cream an even urine but rather than be reasonable MITIE are dragging him through meeting after meeting interrogating him over why he threw a few drops of water on a filthy carpet which he was about to clean anyway. 

To top it off MITIE uses Workfare, exploiting the unemployed. Here is a link to what they call their “Ready2Work” scheme.

Earlier Event: October 31
UVW Meeting
Later Event: November 14
UVW Workshop