For the first time ever, a group of architectural workers in London began unionising the whole sector. They laid out their demands for change in the profession, including, enforcing a Maximum Working Week and for all overtime to be optional, pre-agreed, and paid. 

Section of Architectural Workers (SAW), a group within United Voices of the World Union, intend to organise all those who work or are employed within the architectural sector, from cleaners, model makers, interior designers, architectural assistants, interns, administrative staff, BIM technicians, and architects. 

Following a “Workers’ Inquiry” process in 2018-19, SAW collectively decided to join the grassroots, member-led trade union United Voices of the World, which recently was described as part of the “new breed of trade unionism” and who are “reinventing the labour movement”. The Section of Architectural Workers are one of a new wave of sectors organising, including legal workers, culture and design workers and sex workers, who are joining thousands of, mostly migrant, cleaners and security workers. 

Their aims are clear:

– To create a supportive community of architectural workers to collectively take action. 

– To ensure everyone who works in architecture is properly compensated, fairly treated, and secure in their job. 

– To actively campaign to ensure architecture has a positive impact on wider-society: both socially and environmentally. 

UVW-SAW plan to counter what they describe as an “unsustainable toxic culture” of overwork, underday and discrimination, using historically-proven methods of unionising and effecting change from the bottom-up. Some other issues they are fighting are unpaid internships, a lack of care for mental wellbeing, harassment, and unethical practice.

Through unionising, architectural workers will come together to fight for a better profession, that works both for workers and for wider society. UVW-SAW encourage anyone in the sector to join as a member.

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