Dignity under the hammer! Protest at Sotheby's

  • Sotheby's 34-35 New Bond Street, London W1A 2AA London London

After a successful campaign at Sotheby's a few months ago we won the London Living Wage, contractual sick pay, the reinstatement of our trade union members that had been suspended and dismissed and many other things. 

However, after reaching a collective agreement with the then cleaning company CCML, Sotheby's fired them and hired the contractor Servest. We have sat through around 6 hours of negotiations with Servest, over two different meetings, but they have refused to implement contractual sick pay for the cleaners and porters. They have also refused to backdate the Living Wage to 1st November 2014 when the current rate of £9.15 was first introduced. Sotheby's have also said they probably won't implement the new Living Wage when it comes into force on 1st November 2015. 

Both Sotheby's and Servest could easily afford to backdate the Living Wage and provide the cleaners and porters with contractual sick pay so they don't have to choose between their health and their home when they get sick. At the moment they only receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) which only provides them with £35 for the first week they are off sick then £88.45 from thereon in. 

One of the reasons Servest said they wouldn't pay sick pay was because it would “make them look weak” in front of Sotheby's. So they are more interested in their egos than providing good terms of conditions of employment to their employees. 

To top it off Servest were recently misinformed that we would be protesting on Sat 23rd May and Sunday 24th May. In response they wrote a letter to everyone (see below) telling them that if they protested or “communicated on related matters” they would be disciplined. This is outrageous and in clear contravention of the cleaners and porters' human rights enshrined in Articles 10 and 11 of ECHR: freedom of expression and assembly, respectively. 

This protest will coincide with a Contemporary Art Evening Auction scheduled to start at 7pm in which a piece from Andy Warhol will be sold for an estimated £13-18 million.