United Voices of the World – Section of Architectural Workers (UVW-SAW), is a newly-formed grassroots trade union for architectural workers in the U.K. SAW collectively take action and fight against the negative impacts of architectural work on workers, communities, and the environment.

Members of SAW organise both in their workplaces and across the sector around overwork, under-pay, unstable employment, a toxic workplace and university culture, discrimination and unethical practice. Members facilitate collective casework, host training and events, and run campaigns.  

For more information, we’ve been featured in these articles and podcasts:

The Guardian, ‘It’s in complete crisis’ – architects form trade union amid fury and despair over exploitation, Oliver Wainwright (30 October 2019)

Dezeen, UK architects unionise to challenge industry’s “toxic culture” of long hours and low pay, India Block (November 2019)

Architects’ Journal, Do architects need a trade union?, Kate Youde (November 2019) 

Architects’ Journal, Weekend roundup: Can trade union combat architecture’s long hours?, Simon Aldous (November 2019)

Architects’ Journal, Architecture union launches to fight ‘toxic culture’ of overwork, Ella Jessel (October 2019)

Building Design, Activists launch new union for architectural workers, Jim Dunton (October 2019)

Archdaily, Is it Time for Architects to Unionize? The UK Says Yes, Niall Patrick Walsh (November 2019)

Archinect, Architectural workers in the UK have formed a union, Antonio Pacheco (October 2019)

The Architecture Paper, Section of Architectural Workers sets up union efforts in London, Emily Conklin (November 2019)

The Canary, Coronavirus has thrown the architectural sector even further into crisis, United Voices of the World (April 2020)

Bricks Magazine, Meet the activists rising together, Madeline Reid, Maggie Scaife and Eni Subair, April 2020

Architects’ Journal, Union criticises ‘extreme’ exploitation of architects, Kate Youde, May 2020

Architects’ Journal, Rogue practices are dishing out callous treatment to architectural workers, Section of Architectural Workers, May 2020

Dezeen, Architecture workers are being exploited during pandemic, warns union, India Block (July 2020)


An End to Overwork

Employers should observe existing working time regulations, such as the 48 hour maximum week. Overtime should be optional, pre-agreed and paid. Lunch breaks, annual leave, and TOIL must be properly facilitated.

Transparent and Fair Pay

At least Living Wage for all employees, freelance and outsourced workers. An end to all unpaid work, including un/under-paid overtime, internships. Wages should be transparent and in accordance with company pay scales. Discrimination on basis of gender, migration status, parenthood, age, is not acceptable.

Fair Employment

Architectural practice should move towards being democratically controlled by their workforces: as employee-run-trusts, cooperatives or via worker’s councils. Practices must end hiring and firing cycles, and the use of punitive probation periods. Studios should facilitate career and education development.