Kitchen staff at Colfe’s School, one of London’s oldest schools, have voted to accept a financial settlement in their dispute over underpayment during the last decade, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Tuesday 24 September).

Unite said that its five members, employed by Reading-based CH &Co Catering Ltd, accepted the offer made by the company while they staged the first of seven days of strike action yesterday (Monday 23 September). Strike action has now been suspended.

Unite said that the details of the settlement will remain confidential.

Colfe's School is a co-educational independent day school in Horn Park, Greenwich whose lineage stretches back to the 16th century. The current annual fees range between £13,100 and £17,600. Its alumni include thriller writer Eric Ambler and author of Tarka the Otter Henry Williamson.

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “I believe that the embarrassment generated by children, whose parents pay annual school fees of £17,000, crossing a picket line of lowly paid kitchen staff was a major factor in resolving this dispute.   

“The company agreed to settle the dispute by making a financial offer to staff, which is confidential.

“The strike began yesterday and members voted to accept the deal on the picket line, so we agreed to suspend further action that was due to take place today, however, they stayed out on strike all day yesterday.

“Unite members have, once again, demonstrated the value of belonging to a union and being prepared to stand up and be counted. For too long now, outsourced catering staff in schools have seen serious erosions in their pay and conditions.

“This dispute has demonstrated that a fightback is possible – crucially, these workers have shown that this type of battle can be won.

“We look forward to a constructive dialogue on employment matters with CH & Co Catering in the future.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065
Email: [email protected]

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.