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Academy executive refused to meet with workers after cleaning contractor is found union busting

AN ACADEMY executive has been accused of refusing to act following claims that a cleaning contractor it uses was involved in union busting.

Ridge Crest, which provides cleaners at the Ark Globe Academy in Southwark, London, is accused of trying to bribe workers to ditch their union – by offering personal protective equipment only on that condition.

A company representative had told a worker that they must “lose” their union, the United Voices of the World (UVW) says.

In recordings obtained by the Star, a woman can be heard offering the workers face masks and the possibility of the London Living Wage on condition they leave their union.

She also claimed that the academy was “pretty annoyed” that the cleaners were even unionised.

“Ultimately, I just want to shut the union down,” the woman is heard saying.

In a letter to UVW the academy’s executive principal Matt Jones acknowledged the actions of his contractor were serious, but refused to meet the cleaners or their union.

He also refused to investigate the union busting or sever ties with Ridge Crest, UVW said.

UVW organiser Petros Elia said: “Ark Globe Academy is a disgrace. Firstly, they’ve chosen to outsource their cleaners on poverty wages and deny them sick pay – something which not only puts the cleaners’ health at risk but also the pupils’.

“Cleaners are essentially being forced to work when sick because they cannot afford to stay at home – on the minimum wage of £8.72 per hour they can’t afford to lose a penny.

“But if outsourcing them wasn’t enough, to then condone, or perhaps even encourage their contractor to infringe upon their human rights by trying to stop them from joining a union is utterly reprehensible.”

UVW is calling on the Department for Education to investigate the academy.

One cleaner, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “Ark and Ridge Crest treat us like dirt, our money was stolen for months and some of us were on the verge of losing our homes.

“But now we’ve got UVW to support us we’re not going to back down, we will fight and strike and do whatever it takes to get Ark Globe Academy to realise that we are not the dirt we clean.”  

Ridge Crest and Ark Globe had not responded to the Star’s request for comment at the time of going to press.

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