They want the London Living Wage and sick pay
Migrant kitchen porters working at a millionaire Brexiteer’s private member’s club have been balloted for strike action by their union.
The workers at Robin Birley’s club are demanding they be paid the London Living Wag of £10.55 an hour and proper occupational sick pay.
5 Hertford Street is also known as “Brexit HQ” because of its Brexiteer owner Birley, who donated over £250,000 to UKIP and £20,000 to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Yet prior to the campaign led by their union, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which started in May this year, some kitchen porters were only paid £8.65 an hour, which is barely enough to survive in London.
The club has since been forced to up the pay to £9 an hour after pressure from the campaign, but it’s still far off the living wage.
Union action through a petition signed by nearly 1000 people has also forced the club to reverse a decision to outsource workers to Act Clean, a facilities management company, and also to suspend some workers on trumped up charges.
The porters only receive statuatory minimum sick pay so they don’t get paid at all for the first three days they are off sick and then they get £94.25 a week after that.
This means many workers are forced to work while they are ill just so they can pay the rent and bills.
Henry Chango Lopez, president of the IWGB, made the point: “If Robin Birley can donate hundreds of thousands of pounds to UKIP and Boris Johnson, then he has enough money to pay his kitchen porters the London Living Wage and give them proper proper sick pay.”
He added: “It’s disgraceful that in a restaurant that is attended by some of the richest people in the world, workers have to work when they are ill because they can’t afford to take time off.
“Now Birley has a choice, he can either pay up, or be forced to serve his meals on dirty dishes because those that clean them are out on strike.”
The strike ballot closes on 4 November.
Lucy Skoulding is a freelance reporter at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.
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