Socialist Worker

Car workers clean up

Issue No. 2264

Twenty car valeters have won the final leg of a three-year battle to prove they are not self-employed.

Workers, hired by Autoclenz to clean cars for British Car Auctions, were asked to sign new contracts designed to prove they were sub-contractors.

This meant they were not entitled to protections such as the minimum wage, holiday pay and sick pay.

Yet they were told where, when and how to work. With the help of their union, Unite, they took Autoclenz to an employment tribunal and won.

Autoclenz appealed and took the case all the way to the Supreme Court where they lost again.

Supreme Justice Lord Clarke agreed parts of the contract were “window dressing” and workers were really employees.

Autoclenz has more than 2,000 “self-employed” car valeters but insists the “vast majority” have “different working practices” to those at British Car Auctions.

British Car Auction’s “self‑employed” trade plate drivers can earn as little as £2.29 per hour.

Autoclenz boss Grahame Rummery—an employee, naturally—got a 26 percent pay rise last year to £208,000 plus £28,000 into his pension.

The judgement is available at

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Article information

Tue 9 Aug 2011, 18:01 BST
Issue No. 2264
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