Saturday 14 May saw the latest in a series of protests over a regime of bullying and union-busting at Sir Philip Green’s Topshop. Topshop gets its clothes from sweatshops abroad and in the UK, ducks out of £300m in taxes, exploits unpaid interns and pays its staff poverty wages.
Arcadia, an outfit (owned by Green’s wife) which runs Topshop, outsources its cleaning operation to Britannia Services Group (BSG) and then disclaims all responsibility when BSG refuses to pay the London living wage and victimises those who join a union to protest.
Such was the experience of Maria Guaman and a fellow cleaner when they joined United Voices of the World (UVW) union and began to agitate for decent pay and conditions. When they complained about intimidation from BSG managers, they were suspended.
As Maria blogged: “Topshop knows about it and is letting it happen. They could and should easily intervene but they are choosing not to. So they must be encouraging trade union victimisation, or at least condoning it.”
In addition to the demonstrations, the UVW has started legal proceedings against both Topshop and BSG. (See Cleaners suspended from Topshop in response to living wage campaign by Maria Susana Benavidez Guaman, Change.org, 6 April 2016)