‘It felt like facing a lion’: Migrant workers secure 15 per cent pay rise and sick pay

Cleaners at a private prep school have secured a pay rise and full sick pay after threatening their employer with strike action earlier this month.

The migrant workers who clean Blackheath Prep school in St Germans Place, Blackheath, will see a 15 per cent pay rise, full sick pay and improved contracts following a campaign organised by United Voices of the World, a trade union for low-paid migrant workers.

Dominican cleaner and UVW member Santa Perez, 34, from Lewisham, said: “I am so happy for this win!

“This is not only a victory for us but also for other cleaners who come and work at the school.

Santa Perez said the victory was important to her as a mother of four children (Picture: UVW)

“I am so happy with my union and what we have achieved together. The London Living Wage is important for me, a mother with four children.

“I will be able to do a bit better financially and now when I am sick I don’t have to worry about recovering or not being paid!”

The deal comes almost four weeks after the cleaners returned a 100 per cent vote in favour of strike action, which was set to start next month.

During the unions campaign, workers leafleted parents at the school about their struggle to put food on the table on their £11.44 per hour wage.

Judith Morales said the campaign  for better pay felt like ‘facing a lion’ (Picture: UVW)

Last week representatives from the school met with UVW officials alongside representatives from the contractor Westgate Cleaning to negotiate a settlement to the dispute which resulted in the strike action being called off.

Judit Morales, an Ecuadorian cleaner at Blackheath Prep said: “We never had sick pay before, this is a big win for us, thanks to our unity and the support of our union that had our back all the way.

“Full respect to my union. I was involved in the negotiations, and I told the bosses what we needed.

“It felt like facing a lion and now I feel so strong and powerful.”

A spokesman from Westgate Cleaning said the company was pleased the dispute had been resolved.

Blackheath Prep school has been approached for comment.

Pictured top: UVW members outside Blackheath Prep school this morning (Picture: UVW)

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