5 November: Kitchen porters working at a private members club owned by millionaire Brexiteer Robin Birley have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action, with a 100% yes vote on a 90% turnout. The workers will be meeting in the coming days to discuss potential strike dates.
The porters, all of whom are migrant workers, are demanding they be paid the London Living Wage of £10.55 an hour and proper occupational sick pay.
Their union, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), has today launched an appeal to raise money for the strike fund, which can be found here.
Robin Birley, the owner of the club dubbed “Brexit HQ”, recently donated £20,000 to Boris Johnson's leadership campaign and had previously donated more than £250,000 to UKIP. The other directors of the club are Ben Goldsmith, James Adam Reuben and Clive Stuart Richardson.
Prior to the launch of the IWGB's campaign in May, kitchen porters at 5 Hertford Street were only paid £8.65 per hour, barely enough to survive in London. Under the pressure of the campaign the club was forced to increase their pay to £9 per hour in June and then £9.50 this month, but that is still far below the London Living Wage of £10.55 per hour.
The union also managed to force the club to reverse a decision to outsource the workers to facilities management company Act Clean and to suspend a number of workers on trumped up charges, following a petition that was signed by almost a thousand people. The kitchen porters were briefly working for outsourcing company Act Clean between June and September 2019.
The porters are on the statutory minimum sick pay, so they get no money at all the first three days they are off work with an illness and then are only paid £94.25 per week. This means many of them are forced to work while they are ill, just to be able to pay their rent and keep the lights on.
IWGB President Henry Chango Lopez said: “By voting overwhelmingly in favour of strike action, the kitchen porters have sent a clear message that they will no longer be treated like the dirty dishes they clean. The club can more than afford to pay these workers the London living wage and proper sick pay. If Robin Birley refuses these completely reasonable demands, he will be forced to serve his meals on dirty dishes because those that clean them are out on strike.”
5 Hertford Street is one of the most exclusive clubs in London, where annual membership allegedly costs £1,800 and it is reported that even some billionaires don't make the cut.
For more information: Emiliano Mellino [email protected]
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