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To: Philip Green (CEO of Topshop), William Ruprecht (CEO of Sotheby's) and John Barradell (CEO of Corporation of London)

Pay the cleaners the Living Wage of £9.15 p/hour at Topshop, Sotheby's and Barbican Centre.

Pay the cleaners the Living Wage of £9.15 p/hour at Topshop, Sotheby's and Barbican Centre.

Pay the cleaners the Living Wage of £9.15 p/hour at Topshop, Sotheby's and Barbican Centre. And stop using unpaid interns at Sotheby's.

Why is this important?

London is one of the most expensive, and unequal cities in the world. It hosts more billionaires than any other city whilst millions of people are forced to get by on poverty wages.

The London Living Wage (LLW) is meant to afford people the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families with the essentials of life and to achieve an adequate level of warmth and shelter, a healthy palatable diet, social integration and avoidance of chronic stress. That is why everyone should be paid at least the LLW.

The LLW is set annually by the Living Wage Foundation and calculated by the Greater London Authority. It currently stands at £9.15 per hour.


The cleaners at Sotheby’s, the world’s largest art business, are contracted out and only paid £8.55 p/hour despite Sotheby’s only employing around 1,500 staff members and dishing out around £150 million in wages between them.

In fact, the cleaners at Sotheby’s recently received a pay cut from £8.80 p/hour to £8.55 p/hour being told that if they didn’t accept it their jobs would be at risk, despite Sotheby’s spending an extra £13 million on wages compared to last year. As such, the cleaners are really picking up the crumbs.

Sotheby’s also uses unpaid interns to help run its business which is both morally reprehensible and legally questionable.


Topshop only pays £6.50 to their cleaners, who are also contracted out. This is despite the fact that the Arcadia Group, the parent group of Topshop, recorded profits of £481m in 2013. Philip Green is also a renowned tax evader, uses sweatshops in Mauritius, and even uses factories in Britain in which workers are paid less than half the legal minimum wage according to a Channel 4 Dispatches.

Barbican Centre

The cleaners at the Barbican Centre, who are also contracted out, won the LLW in 2013 after a year long campaign. However, the Corporation of London (who owns the Barbican Centre) has refused to increase the LLW to the current rate of £9.15 p/hour.

Quotes from cleaners (all wish to remain anonymous)

A cleaner from Topshop says: “Earning only £6.50 per hour means I have to work so many hours a day to pay my bills that I barely have time to see my children. It also means I can’t afford to travel by tube and need to spend several hours a day on the bus just to get to and from work.”

A cleaner from Sotheby’s says: “Working so hard that my joints hurt, for so little for a company that makes so much money is just not fair. Our wages should be enough to cover the basic costs of living in London, and they simply aren't."

A cleaner at the Barbican Centre says: "After having fought so hard to win the Living Wage, to now be told that we won't be paid it is just tragic. We will have to go back once again and fight for the Living Wage.”

The cleaners at Topshop, Sotheby's and Barbican Centre are members of the trade union United Voices of the World (UVW).


Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL


Reasons for signing

  • Philip Green boss of Top Shop paid himself £1.2 BILLION TAX FREE. He pays more in donations to the Tory party than the tax man!
  • Basic economics and the money goes back into economy anyway unlike expenditure by rich which winds up in a foreign economy.


2015-01-06 22:21:17 +0000

500 signatures reached

2015-01-06 18:33:03 +0000

Thank you everyone for all your support. The Director of Sotheby's Press Office has confirmed that the cleaners will be paid the London Living Wage of £9.15 p/hour as of 1st April 2014. This is a great victory! Sotheby's has also denied using unpaid interns despite clear evidence that they do use them ( which may mean they will no longer use unpaid interns. If this is the case, though we are waiting for confirmation, this is also a great victory!

2014-12-17 06:14:19 +0000

100 signatures reached

2014-12-16 21:33:47 +0000

50 signatures reached

2014-12-16 19:47:16 +0000

25 signatures reached

2014-12-16 15:06:54 +0000

10 signatures reached