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Condé Nast cleaners secure 11% pay rise after strike threat

A group of United Voices of the World (UVW) members from Latin America who clean the offices of global media company Condé Nast in the Adelphi Building in Covent Garden have won a swift pay rise of over 11 per cent following threats of strike action, backdated to 1 April 2023.

The workers are part of a wider movement of simultaneous UVW-coordinated disputes involving cleaners, carers and concierge workers in nine workplaces in and around London. These include Amazon warehouses, Mercedes-Benz showrooms, the Department of Education and the London School of Economics, among others.

From now on, the cleaners will earn the London Living Wage  (LLW) of £11.95 per hour, and the company has committed to automatically increasing this amount in line with the LLW every year.

The cleaners are outsourced to Samsic, a property facilities services company employed to serve global media giant Condé Nast offices at the iconic Adelphi Building, in Covent Garden, owned by Spanish billionaire Amancio Ortega.

Condé Nast, which is the publisher of popular magazines such as Vogue, Vanity Fair and the New Yorker, reportedly generated revenue of nearly £1.6 billion ($2 billion) in 2021. The global Samsic group boasts a revenue of at least £2.4 billion (€2.8 billion), with its UK division having a total revenue of £75 million. Ortega is the founder of international clothing brand Zara, third richest man in Europe and 18th richest in the world.

Petros Elia, UVW general secretary said: “While we are thrilled that the cleaners have won a historic, and retroactive pay rise, the fact that they had to threaten to go on strike is a indictment of the exploitative hypocrisy of big business – happy to make massive profits on the back of outsourced ancillary workers on poverty wages while trumpeting ethical values of equality of treatment and opportunity, fairness and diversity. Strike action – and the threat of it – proves yet again to be the only way to ensure decent pay and conditions for workers.”

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