Protesters have swarmed a luxury car dealership after it allegedly suspended a married couple who asked for a £2.25 pay rise.
Freddy Lopez and Angelia Valencia Bolanos, who are originally from Ecuador, worked for five years on the minimum wage as cleaners at the HR Owen’s Ferrari and Maserati showrooms in South Kensington, London.
The couple voted unanimously to go on strike to boost their wages from £7.50 to the London living wage of £9.75. But when they tried to go to work, they were met at the doors by HR and management.
Dozens of protesters wielding banners and a number holding mops took to the streets of South Kensington and rounded in on the car dealership on Saturday in support of the workers.
Protesters wielding mops and banners tried to took to the streets outside HR Owen car dealership
Class War and other organisations marched to HR Owen’s offices and the Ferrari showroom in London to protest against the sacking of a staff member
Anxious staff at the dealership were pictured trying to hold their doors as protesters tried to kick down the glass door, while proud demonstrators brandished a banner which read ‘we must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live’ outside South Kensington Tube station.
The married pair, who are contracted to Templewood Cleaning, were allegedly told to hand over their keys and accused of taking money for hours they had not worked.
The showroom sells some of the most expensive cars including Lamborghini’s, Bentley’s, Aston Martin and Ferrari’s, often going for hundreds of thousands of pounds.
United Voices of the World Union (UVW), which is representing the couple, said in a statement: ‘There could not be a clearer case of trade union victimisation and UVW will immediately initiate legal proceedings against both the cleaning contractor Templewood Cleaning, and HR Owen at an employment tribunal and county court.’
A protester with blue hair kicks tries to kick down the glass door into the luxury car showroom while staff desperately try to stop demonstrators barging in
Proud protesters outside South Kensington Tube station hold up a banner which reads ‘we must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live’.
The union added the move was ‘an attack on all workers – especially low-paid migrant workers’ who were trying to ‘fight back against miserly and unscrupulous bosses’.
Green Party baroness Jenny Jones told Politics.co.uk she supported the strike action taken by the two employees.
The former London Assembly Member said: ‘It’s ridiculous that a company dealing in luxury cars can’t pay its cleaners a decent wage and reinforces the case for the London Living Wage to be made compulsory.’
Ms Bolanos said: ‘This has been tough for us – but our response to it will be even tougher.’
A spokesperson for Templewood told Metro.co.uk: ‘We can confirm that Freddy Lopez and Angelica Valencia Bolanos are employees of Templewood and this is an issue between Templewood and these employees – it has nothing to do with HR Owen.
‘Freddy and Angelica were suspended for one reason – claiming payment for hours they had not actually worked, an irrefutable fact; we are now following due process regarding this matter. Contracts between Templewood and its employees fully comply with all employment laws.
‘Given that United Voices of the World Union (UVW), which is representing the couple, has issued a statement that it will immediately initiate legal proceedings against Templewood Cleaning, at an employment tribunal and county court, Templewood is unable to make any further comment.’
MailOnline has contacted HR Owen for comment.