vacuumWe are not rubbish, we are people”

Albeiro Ortiz, cleaner at The Barbican

Megaphone Films has produced a new 25-minute documentary, Waging A Living In London, chronicling the successful campaign by cleaners at The Barbican theatre to secure a substantial pay rise, from around £6 to £8 per hour.

Co-directed by Ben Mann and Petros Elia, the film brings into sharp focus the day-to-day difficulties of living on the minimum wage. Following husband and wife team Albeiro and Monica Ortiz, it tells the story of the Barbican cleaners’ 12-month campaign of peaceful protests, strikes and direct action.

The living wage is the independently calculated amount needed to meet the cost of living. In London it is £8.80 per hour.

Waging A Living In London director, Ben Mann, said: “People like Albeiro and Monica are vital to keeping London moving, yet they’re among the lowest paid. We met people working up to 70 hours a week. They have no time for their family and they’re treated terribly. This is the desperate reality for millions of Londoners.”

Waging A Living In London director, Petros Elia, said: “Through peaceful mass protest, the Barbican cleaners brought the Corporation of London to the negotiating table. They have proved that the shackles of poverty pay can be broken, that everyone can win a living wage. In October 2014, the minimum wage rose from £6.31 to £6.50 an hour, less for younger people, and that is simply not enough.”

Quotes from the film

Albeiro Ortiz, Barbican cleaner, said: “When you are on the minimum wage you feel there are not enough hours in the day to work. It is a wage of misery.”

Dr Faiza Shaheen, senior researcher at the New Economics Foundation, said: “Britain is increasingly becoming a low wage economy. Since 2010, four out of five jobs that have been created pay less than £8 per hour. London is one of the most unequal cities in high-income countries.”

John McDonnell MP, said: “We have had enough of companies paying poverty wages. When you see those who have most to lose fighting back, you have to get on side and start supporting them. Why don’t we ensure there’s a proper distribution between profits and earnings?”

Independent columnist, Owen Jones, said: “The demand for a living wage clearly appeals to peoples’ fundamental sense of humanity.”

See the film FREE online at:

Twitter: @livingwagedoc (please use the hashtag #LivingwageDoc)