Cleaners and sales staff generating millions for a retail magnate in 2,500 UK stores are paid poverty wages with no job security


THE crime scene

Topshop's flagship store goes up five floors on London's Oxford Street, selling average-to-low quality fashionwear (made in sweatshops) at hefty markups. It is part of the Arcadia Group, mostly owned by Sir Philip Green — a serial tax cheat who lives lavishly in Monaco with his tax-cheating wife, luxury yachts and a private jet.

The campaign

Cleaners at the Topshop/Topman emporium worked for Britannia Services Group — a typical minimum wage, maximum profit outfit. Susana was called "donkey" by an abusive supervisor who kicked a bucket at her. This triggered stress-related depression but she continued working for five more years, until UVW took up her cause for a London Living Wage (LLW), resulting in her suspension after more bullying. A petition was signed by over 37k people, and cleaner wages were raised to the minimum wage + 30p. This was still almost £2 less than LLW, so protests went full steam ahead.

susana starts work at uvw, paid a living wage

The protests included 600 flyers planted in the pockets of garments, announcing the hypocrisy of Topshop claiming to "fully subscribe to the concept of the living wage" while contracting services to poverty wage employers. Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell, joined the demonstration amid red smoke and placards highlighting the absurdity of owner Sir Philip Green being worth over £4bn. The #Topshop2 were Susana and Carolina, a colleague who had also been suspended for trade union activity. In February 2019, a tribunal finally ruled unfair dismissal with compensation of up to £75k for Susana. The judgment (PDF) was covered by BBC News and most major newspapers.

Special thanks to the IWGB Union, Norwich People's Assembly and John McDonnell MP

Relive the Topshop campaign in multimedia!

This campaign was reported in the Guardian (24th March 2016), VICE (12th March 2016), Independent (15th May 2016) and Huffington Post (13th May 2016)