Labourers at orion recycling

In 2018, Peruvian labourers at an east London waste disposal plant came to UVW complaining of dangerous conditions, mistreatment and low pay. In a few hours the next morning, they won most of their demands.

Peruvian workers at the Orion waste disposal and recycling facility in east London were being ruthlessly exploited. Paid the minimum wage for their labour in dangerously dusty enclosed spaces with insufficient respiratory protection, they were united in their readiness to walk off the job — within 24 hours of their first meeting with a UVW caseworker.

On that chilly morning, the company owner was confronted by a workforce unwilling to lift a finger until basic demands were met. A group of UVW staff and supporters joined them in asking the questions for which there was no rational response except to pledge to provide, the very next day: proper face masks, air filters, gloves, four pairs of protective overalls each, soap and toilet paper — and to install on-site showers within a month. This was all readily agreed to by a flustered and unprepared owner.

They also won a pledge to discuss a significant pay raise to the London Living Wage, plus occupational sick pay — meaning that they would get appropriately paid for their first 3 days of injury or illness, instead of nothing at all!

On top of that: a personal apology from the site manager, and a promise that for the day of this wildcat strike they would still be paid and not victimised! A momentous result for workers who had never before been members of a trade union…