Royal Opera House Porters and Cleaners Win “London Living Wage”

Press release by IWGB union, Feb. 4, 2014

The Independent Workers Union (IWGB) confirmed today that porters and cleaners working for MITIE at the Royal Opera House have secured a landmark victory in their fight for workplace justice, a victory that will lift them out of the poverty trap.

Workers at the Royal Opera House overwhelmingly accepted an agreement with the facilities company MITIE which guarantees that all porters and cleaners receive the London Living Wage of £8.80 per-hour [$14.35].  

The workers voted by a 100% margin to strike during the BAFTA awards on 16th February. Their campaign won widespread support.  Award-winning director Ken Loach issued an appeal for support, demanding, “No one should cross your picket lines.” The actors union Equity and the Musicians Union wrote to the Royal Opera in support of the IWGB members. Glenda Jackson, MP, joined 25 other MPs in signing Early Day Motion 919, tabled by John McDonnell, MP, in support of the workers.

John McDonnell, MP, stated: “This is a tremendous victory for the IWGB workers and it sends out a message to all low pay employers that we are not willing to tolerate poverty pay and we’re coming for you.”

The Royal Opera saw a series of mass protests by trade unionists and students, who invaded the premises demanding justice. 

Following failed talks at ACAS, the Royal Opera offered to pay the current Living Wage in April 2015.  The IWGB made a counter offer for:

1st February 2014 — the pay rate of £8.00 will apply;
1st April 2014 — the pay rate of £8.80 will apply.

With the union campaign escalating, MITIE and Royal Opera House finally agreed to the settlement.

Chris Ford, IWGB General Secretary, said, “IWGB pays tribute to the courage and determination of our members. Combined with the solidarity of the labour movement and of students and youth, we have secured this fantastic victory. In five months, we have gone from suffering the arrogant disdain of the employers to winning the first pay raise in three years for these cleaners and porters. It is an example to all workers who struggling to live at present.”


1.       IWGB is an independent workers union which originated in the Justice for Cleaners campaign. The IWGB has been organising cleaners, hotel workers and “vulnerable workers” across the City.

2.       For information and interview requests, contact:  Chris Ford:

3.      On the current dispute see:

4.       See EDM at:

5.       The London Living Wage is £8.80 per-hour. For more information, see the London Living Wage Foundation:

6.       IWGB members have won the living wage recently at the Corporation of London, Royal Bank of Canada, Exchange Tower, and Canary Wharf and at the St Georges University of London, Tooting. The IWGB has also held strike action at the Barbican Centre for the Living Wage.

7.       Previous IWGB campaigns can be found here:

8.       Follow IWGB on Twitter‏ @IWGBUnion

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