Freedom News
People stand with with fists in the air behind a banner that reads UNITED VOICES OF THE WORLD

Amazon cleaners to lead coordinated strike action

Yesterday cleaners, carers and concierge workers, UVW members across the public and private sectors, have returned a massive mandate to strike for dignity, equality and respect. 

The low-paid, Black, brown and migrant workers are joining forces across the following nine workplaces; an Amazon warehouse, a Mercedes-Benz showroom, London School of Economics, Streatham and Clapham private school, La Retraite state school, Sage Nursing home, the Department for Education, luxury apartments West End Quays and media powerhouse Ogilvy at the Sea Containers’ building. 

“For those workers that are not yet union members; I recommend that you join the struggle. Do not allow fear to defeat you. Don’t keep quiet. This is the strategy that companies use to make us believe that they are in the right, so that we let ourselves be trampled on and so that we let ourselves be pressured. We might not be working in handcuffs or shackles. But psychologically companies try to put pressure on us, they try to shackle us, so as workers we do not claim our rights.”

José Francisco Mora Varón, UVW member and cleaner at Amazon Warehouses

Among the demands, the workers want a pay rise to cope with the increased cost of living. In some cases they are asking for a modest increase to the London Living Wage (LLW) of £11.95 per hour, such as at Amazon and Mercedes, which both behemoths have astonishingly refused, while some are demanding £13 and even £15 an hour. Others are asking for their lawful entitlement to annual leave pay and amended contracts which is being denied such as at the LSE; at Streatham and Clapham School the cleaners are calling for full sick pay and an end to outsourcing; and in the Department for Education the workers are demanding parity with civil service benefits while in other sites the workers are resisting detrimental changes to the timetable.  

UVW members work early in the morning and through the night so that students, teachers, academics, sales people, office workers and civil servants can live, study and work in clean and safe spaces. They deserve dignity, equality and respect. 

“As a general rule the vast majority of cleaners get up between 4am and 5am. We have to work at least 10 hours a day to barely make ends and tend to work several jobs of 1-2 hours… On many occasions our only contact with our children is during the week and over mobile phone.”

Magaly Quesada Herrera, a UVW member and cleaner at La Retraite

This is set to be UVW’s biggest coordinated industrial action to date as members join the current strike wave across the private and public sectors.

“We are all frustrated and we are overworked, our demands are just and fair. They don’t talk to us right, they talk to us like children. We are parents, we have grandchildren, we have the right to be respected so we have come together as one. Just because I am a cleaner and they sit down in their offices it does not make them better than us or more important than us. When we strike they will know and see how important we are.”

Kadijatu Jalloh, UVW member and cleaner at the Department for Education

Discover more from Freedom News

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading