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Architectural workers threatened with redundancies as they initiate historic strike ballot

Following months of being ignored by management after raising issues regarding their pay and conditions, workers at Atomik, a London-based architectural company, are initiating a strike ballot. In June 2022, some workers individually raised the matter of pay in their annual reviews. When they were ignored, they wrote a collective letter outlining their demands.

UVW-SAW has been informed that after receiving the letter, management did agree to meet workers but refused to negotiate. During the meeting itself, the directors appeared to fail to understand the serious impact rising living costs were having on workers, and flat out refused to share financial information for the company, both of which left the workers frustrated and distrustful.

In a joint statement, Atomik workers said: “We are disappointed that Atomik has continuously dismissed and ignored our individual and collective concerns. We were expecting to collaborate to improve conditions at the practice but instead, we have had months of empty promises and zero progress. We have all worked at Atomik for a number of years, but that loyalty has not been reciprocated in meaningful improved pay or working conditions. We have been forced into this position, striking is our last resort.”

Atomik workers are demanding:

  • A pay increase of 10% (at the time in line with inflation), or to receive a 7% increase with a model of profit-sharing to be negotiated
  • Reduced working hours – to reflect industry norms by reducing hours from 9-6 to 9-5
  • Flexible working arrangements – 2 days of remote working per week.
  • Paid training – currently CPDs are required to be taken during unpaid lunch breaks.
  • Trade union recognition – so that workers are collectively negotiated on pay and other changes to terms and conditions.

The workers were left with no choice but to notify their employer that they are in dispute over pay and conditions. They hoped that this would show Atomik that they are serious about these concerns, and meaningful negotiation could commence. But Atomik’s response was to trigger a redundancy consultation, which will most likely lead to dismissals. This came as a shock to the workers, who until recently were under the impression the company was looking to expand the number of employees.

Image: UVW-SAW members show support for Atomik workers. Signs read: “Atomik Architecture, Let’s Negotiate!”. By UVW.

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