The Canary Wharf cleaners stepped up their campaign against poverty pay when about 100 people demonstrated outside the Old Vic theatre in London on Thursday of last week.
Bankers Morgan Stanley, who own a large percentage of the Canary Wharf complex in east London, have given the theatre £500,000 to sponsor the season.
That’s enough to cover the cleaners’ claim for a living wage, according to their T&G union.
The cleaners are campaigning for a wage of £6.70 an hour, 28 days holiday, sick pay and a company pension. At present they get just £5.74 an hour. Yet Morgan Stanley’s chief executive, Philip J Purcell, got £13 million last year and the company made profits of $4.49 billion.
Anna Kruthoffre — a member of the national executive committee for Bectu, the theatre technicians’ union — said, “Our members who work in the theatre hugely sympathise with the need for better pay.
“Lack of funding can leave the theatre at the mercy of corporate sponsors.
“It would be better if we had public money to support the theatre instead of the banks.”
T&G deputy general secretary Jack Dromey
said, “Morgan Stanley are behaving like the Victorian mill owners. They distribute charity and sponsor the arts at the same time as paying their own workers poverty wages. Morgan Stanley must take responsibility. They should pay their workers a living wage.”
Marcia, one of the cleaners at the Morgan Stanley building, said, “It’s good that so many people are here to show their support. We have to keep the campaign going until they listen.”
This is a crucial battle to show that unions can break new ground, recruit members and then deliver their demands.