Porters and Cleaners organised in Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) union prepare to bring red flags to the red carpet, disrupting this year’s BAFTA award ceremony with industrial action culminating in a protest over pay and victimisation.
On Sunday 8th February, The Royal Opera House will host the annual BAFTA film awards; an event that aims to celebrate and recognise hard work and success in the British entertainment industry. Cleaning staff at the prestigious venue will use this event as an opportunity to demand recognition for their hard work. They have been engaged in disputes with their employer, MITIE, for over a year and now plan to gather with their horns and their flags, to make as much noise as possible at the event’s opening. This will follow two days of strike action.
As yet subcontractor MITIE have failed to pay cleaners at the Royal Opera House the current London Living Wage of £9.15 per hour since it was announced in November. On top of this, many workers have had their wages withheld for over a year and all have suffered a significant cut to their holiday entitlements. Presently, they also have no right to sick pay. Through this action, they hope that their pay demands are met, their conditions of work are improved and that their union, IWGB is acknowledged in negotiations with MITIE.
Workers who have participated in collective action feel that they are being subjected to continued intimidation and victimisation. Rosa (a pseudonym), a cleaner at the Royal Opera House, said:
“It is simple. We deserve fair pay for our work.We won’t be bullied into silence”
Renowned film-maker Ken Loach, though he won’t be present at the ceremony, has declared his support for the demonstration:
“I send you my very warmest good wishes in your struggle. Everyone has the right to be paid a fair wage so that they can live in security and with dignity. The Royal Opera House management cannot escape responsibility.”
IWGB protests recently gained media attention with the heavy-handed police response to their christmas protests at a flagship John Lewis store. This has not deterred the union or its members from planning future demonstrations.
IWGB Strike Action: 6th-8th February
Demonstration outside the BAFTA film awards: 8th February, 7:30pm
Royal Opera House