Skip to main content

Sotheby’s cleaners to picket auction over sacked staff

AN AUCTION of vintage cars set to raise a whopping £30 million early next month will be disrupted by cleaners calling for the reinstatement of sacked colleagues.

Four cleaners and porters at posh auction house Sotheby’s were dismissed for attending a previous demo after a new contractor attempted to reverse union victories on pay and sickness allowances.

Two of the workers have been reinstated, but Percy Yunganina and Barbara Rocha remain barred.

The pair, who are both active in the United Voices of the World union, were accused by cleaning contractor Serviced of inciting violence and associating with extremists.

The contractor concluded that they had no case to answer over these charges, but Sotheby’s reportedly insisted that they could not return to work.

Union general secretary Petros Elia claimed that it had been explicitly told by managers that Mr Yunganina and Ms Rocha had been let go because of their record as reps.

He suggested that the case pointed to a disturbing loophole allowing outsourcing giants to sack trade unionists at the demand of clients, with little opportunity for legal redress.

“The way Sotheby’s and contractor Serviced have behaved is abhorrent,” said Mr Elia.

“They are flouting Barbara and Percy’s basic right to be in a trade union. Barbara and Percy have been put under enormous amount of pressure and stress.

“We’re not going to tolerate this type of viciousness and we will continue campaign until they are reinstated.”

The cleaners won the living wage and contractual sick pay under previous contractor CCML but, upon taking over, Serviced insisted that it did not have to stick to the agreements.


We're a reader-owned co-operative, which means you can become part of the paper too by buying shares in the People’s Press Printing Society.

Become a supporter

Fighting fund

You've Raised:£ 10,087
We need:£ 7,931
9 Days remaining
Donate today