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Migrant Workers at Boris Johnson donor's club to strike for sick pay on 11 & 12 December

12 December 2019 08:51
  • Kitchen porters to strike at 5 Hertford Street private members club, dubbed “Brexit HQ”
  • The club is owned by millionaire Brexiteer Robin Birley, who donated over £250,000 to UKIP and £20,000 to Boris Johnson
  • Kitchen porters, who often have to work when sick, are demanding proper occupational sick pay and union recognition

5 December: Kitchen porters working at a private members  club owned by millionaire Brexiteer Robin Birley will go out on strike  for 48 hours on 11 and 12 December.

The porters, all of whom are migrant workers, are demanding proper  occupational sick pay and union recognition for the purposes of  collective bargaining. Their union, the Independent Workers Union of  Great Britain (IWGB), has launched an appeal to raise money for the  strike fund, which can be found here.

Currently, 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.

Last month, after the workers returned a 100% yes vote in favour of  strike action, the club agreed to pay the London Living Wage of £10.75  per hour from January 2020.

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.

IWGB President Henry Chango Lopez said: “By campaigning together, the  kitchen porters have managed to push the club to end its policy of  poverty wages and start paying the London Living Wage. But the  conditions they face are still unconscionable. They deserve proper sick  pay and to bargain collectively for their basic terms and conditions.  The club has a choice: Give in to these demands or face strike action.”

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, £9.50 in November  and finally agreed to pay the London Living Wage after the kitchen  porters voted to strike.

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.

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:

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