The Ferrari Owners’ Club
of Great Britain

Ferrari Showroom Cleaners Protest


The following article by Damien Gale was posted on The Grauniad website.


Fredy Lopez and Angelica Valencia Bolanos were fired after refusing less than the living wage

Latin American cleaners staged a noisy protest outside South Kensington’s Ferrari showroom on Tuesday after two workers were sacked for campaigning and planning a strike to get a pay rise and the living wage.

About 50 activists affiliated with the United Voices of the World (UVW) and the International Workers of Great Britain unions blocked traffic outside HR Owen Sports Cars on Old Brompton Road, in one of the UK’s wealthiest districts.

They banged drums, blew air horns and whistles, and made speeches denouncing the company’s refusal to pay workers enough to live on. They had originally planned to occupy the showroom but arrived to find the doors locked and the premises empty except for a few security staff.

The protest came after two cleaners, Fredy Lopez, 51, and Angelica Valencia Bolanos, 49 were fired on Monday for refusing to give up their living wage struggle and return to work for £7.50 an hour.

“The meeting took around five hours and they concluded that we were entitled to our job but we would get it back only being paid £7.50 and we would have to cease all union activity,” Lopez said, speaking through an interpreter. “And because we didn’t accept we were immediately sacked.”

Nevertheless, he was buoyed by the protest. “Even though I’m really upset because of what’s happened, I’m really excited and really glad of the outcome of tonight and seeing everyone’s support.”

The living wage, pioneered by Citizens UK, is £9.75 an hour in London and £8.45 elsewhere in the UK. In London about 680,000 people – one in 13 of the capital’s population – earns less than £9.75.

Lopez has cleaned the HR Owen showroom for seven years, while Valencia Bolanos has worked with him for the past five of those years.

Valencia Bolanos previously told the Guardian how they were required to meet very high standards, even after their hours were reduced from six hours a night to four.

Petros Elia, general secretary of UVW, which represents Lopez and Valencia Bolanos, said the pair had been suspended after initially balloting for strike action. He declared the protest a success despite not going to its original plan.

“Our goal in a sense was to let them know that we are ready and organised and we are determined,” he said. “The message would have gone out. Despite the fact that we didn’t get in they would have understood that this is a fight that we will take to the end.”