Reinstate your Cleaners and Pay them the Real Living Wage
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We (Marco, Barbara, Percy and Jorge) worked as cleaners at Sotheby's, the multinational auction house, and have just been suspended from our jobs after calling for contractual sick pay and to keep the Living Wage when it goes up this November.
We have effectively been sacked for daring to ask for a decent wage and better benefits. We are asking Sotheby’s, and Servest the company to which we are outsourced, to reinstate us and treat us better. We currently only receive statutory sick pay which means that if we are sick or injured we only receive a small fraction of our salary. We cannot afford to live off that which means that we end up working when we are sick or injured in order to afford the rent for our homes.
Last year our hourly wage was cut to save Sotheby's money. We then fought for and won the London Living Wage which they paid in April 2015, even though the current rate of £9.15 per hour came into effect on 1st November 2014, and in November 2015 the Living Wage will go up again, and Sotheby’s have refused to raise our wage to match it.
We have families to support. It’s not reasonable to withdraw nearly all our wages when we work hard throughout the year but cannot work because we’re sick.
On Wednesday 1st July we organised a protest with our trade union, United Voices of the World (UVW), because Sotheby's refused to pay us this basic compensation. The morning after Sotheby’s banned us all from the building. We were made to hand over our passes and escorted off the premises. They treated us like criminals. Sotheby’s have released a statement to say we have been suspended for participating in a protest in which demonstrators allegedly "attempted to assault clients”. The protest was peaceful -- we feel they are using excuses to avoid an employee dispute over pay.
Today the Government said that Britain has a “low wage problem” and that a living wage is necessary for a basic standard of living. The Living Wage is the minimum amount needed to cover the cost of living in the UK.
According to Sotheby's bosses we were dismissed because the protest may have “put the business at risk” and resulted in loss of revenue. But that same evening Sotheby’s held a record-breaking auction where it sold £130 million worth of paintings. Our protest was both peaceful and lawful and only held because Sotheby's refused to discuss our pay.
Please sign this petition and tell Sotheby's to reinstate us. We have worked there for many years and done nothing wrong. All we did was exercise our human right to protest for a real living wage and sick pay. Is this too much to ask from a multinational auction house that makes millions of pounds in profits per year and pays its CEO $7 million a year?
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