UVW's pre-strike protest at LHH, a swish consultancy in the City of London, began on a December mid-afternoon outside the entrance, met by a line of City of London police.
The cleaners, all Latin American and fresh from voting unanimously for strike action, departed the protest to start their evening shifts inside the building at precisely 6pm. The police suddenly stopped pushing them away, and allowed them to pass.
For the first time in all the years of service — 20 years in the case of one of the cleaners — they became visible to the suited City workers, after facing down threats of disciplinary action and dismissal.
In response, LHH confirmed they would be re-tendering their cleaning contract to guarantee the London Living Wage of £10.20 per hour. A whopping 30% increase!
This victory was achieved in little over 24 hours, after UVW submitted a formal claim for the London Living Wage warning the company that if they did not commit to it within 7 days — and start paying it within a month — the cleaners would be duly balloted for an all-out strike.
The Latin American cleaners — who worked night shifts at the bank — were informed the very next day that as of the following month they would all receive a pay rise from £8.50 to £10.20 per hour.
For the EU headquarters of an elite bank raking in annual revenues of £15bn and with $33 trillion in assets under custody, this was a remarkably simple result. Of course, everything’s a lot easier when it’s proven that a union doesn’t back down!
On the eve of closure of UVW's strike ballot for cleaners across London's luxury private hospitals owned by Heathcare America, the cleaning contractor Compass Group announced a pay increase from £7.83 to £9.18 per hour — a jump of over 17%.
Within weeks of the minimum-wage cleaners joining UVW, the contractor Vertas — which the Lyceum outsources to — announced that they would all be paid £10 an hour effective immediately, plus a whopping £20 an hour to work on Sundays.
Our members who clean Oasis Academy Southbank through the cleaning contractor Eagleclean secured the London Living Wage of £10.55 with a big back payment, after threatening an all-out strike. They were being paid only £8 p/h!
UVW members cleaning halls of student residence all over London for the charity/housing association Optivo — facing a pay cut — won a raise to the London Living Wage after giving a 7-day notice that strike ballots would be issued!