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.
Members of SAW collectively take action and fight against the negative impacts of architectural work on workers, communities, and the environment.
We’ve put together this FAQ for you to get to know the union. The best way to find out more is to come along to a Branch Meeting, which happens on the first Monday of the month.
All union meetings are currently held via Zoom.
What is a trade union?
A trade union is a group of workers organising for better working conditions. As members of SAW we look after the interests of workers and support each other with workplace issues, as well as organising for wider changes in the sector. General information about trade union membership in the UK can be found here.
How do members of UVW-SAW fight for change in the sector?
Members of SAW organise their workplaces around the issues that impact them directly – be it unpaid overtime, sex discrimination, or health and safety. In Working Groups, members come together to host trainings, facilitate collective casework, promote worker voices and build relationships across the sector and beyond.
What is UVW?
United Voices of the World (UVW) is our parent union and is a member-led, direct action, campaigning trade union. UVW brings together workers across many sectors including cleaning, security, catering and portering from the predominantly outsourced facilities services sector, as well as travel agents, chefs, retail, construction and health care workers. Several sector groups have formed within the union, including sex workers, artists, childcare workers, gender-based-violence workers, charity workers and legal workers. SAW is the architectural workers sector group of UVW.
Who can join?
Anyone working in the architecture sector who doesn’t have the ability to hire or fire. This includes architectural assistants, model-makers, BIM technicians, admin workers, architects, landscape architects, estimators, students, visualisers, researchers, receptionists, students, university workers, interior designers, freelancers, cleaners and sole-traders.
What does being a member involve?
Members of SAW organise with their colleagues, support workers in other workplaces through collective casework, attend and facilitate trainings, and get involved in Working Groups like Communications or Outreach. SAW is 100% member-run, and all members can take part in consensus decision making in Branch Meetings and Annual General Meetings.
Do I need to tell my boss if I join?
You are not legally obliged to tell your boss if you are a member of a trade union, nor are they allowed to ask. SAW members will never contact your boss without your consent. It is illegal for your boss to treat you unfairly or differently for being a member of a trade union. More information on UK trade union rights can be found here.
What if I have a workplace issue?
As a member you should get in touch using this form with the Worker Solidarity Working Group who will work collectively with you, and your coworkers, to fight for the outcome you want. Members of SAW share their experience, time and knowledge to resolve issues together. UVW’s team of organisers, legal caseworkers, and communications workers also help with resources relevant to your issue, be that going to Employment Tribunal or launching a public campaign.
Does UVW-SAW represent members from across the UK?
As a member you will join architectural workers in all regions of the UK. The pandemic saw an expansion in membership outside of London, and we passed a motion at our first AGM protecting accessibility for such workers. The goal of our members is to strengthen worker power in the entire architecture sector, regardless of geographical location.
How much does membership cost?
UVW-SAW membership fees are based on your income. If your gross income is less than £1,100 per month (total earnings before taxes), membership will cost £8 per month, increasing to £10 if your gross income is more than £1,100 per month.
Where do I join?
You can become a member, and help transform the sector in the interests of workers, by visiting www.uvwunion.org.uk/en/join .
What happens after I join?
You will be contacted by an existing member to welcome you and invite you to the next branch meeting. The success of the union is only possible through member action!