Advertising firm Saatchi & Saatchi has found itself weathering some bad PR after 35 unpaid cleaning staff go to court in an effort to claw back £40,000 in unpaid wages, forcing the media firm to act.
A mystery donor stepped forward to finance employment tribunal proceedings against the advertising firm which stood accused of abandoning its contract workers.
Cleaners were employed by Consolidated Office Cleaning (COC) which secured the contract to tidy Saatchi & Saatchi’s Soho headquarters five years ago, but was subsequently subject to court action by HM Revenue & Customs over £760,000 in unpaid tax.
The firm initially failed to pay its workers in October citing temporary issues with its bank and then subsequently filed for voluntary liquidation in November without informing its employees – leaving staff with nothing to show for two months work.
Cheshunt Group Cleaning Services (CGCS) were subsequently appointed to the servicing contract but neither they, nor Saatchi, initially accepted any responsibility for the owed salaries.
Barrister Maria Gonzalez-Merello, who is offering advice to the claimants, said: “The fees for starting a claim are huge, the process is almost impenetrable, even for experts, and the law is complicated. It’s exploitation of the very weakest. This happens again and again. In many instances, cleaners walk away with nothing because what else can they do?”
Following the fracas all parties agreed to resolve the matter with COC staff transferring to CGCS whilst Saatchi agreed to compensate for the lost wages. Magnus Djaba, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi London, said: “Though there is no legal reason for us to pay the wages owed to these cleaners, we felt a moral responsibility towards these people, many of whom have been contracted to clean our offices for many years.