Microsoft founder Bill Gates will face a ‘poverty pay’ protest when he gives the Hawking Fellowship lecture in Cambridge on Monday (7 October) over his shareholding in a US sanitation company at the centre of a dispute over low wages and affordable healthcare.

Members of Unite Community – along with representatives of the US Teamsters union - will be protesting when Mr Gates, the recipient of the 2019 Professor Hawking Fellowship, gives the lecture at the Cambridge Union in Bridge Street at 10.00 on Monday.

Bill Gates is a major shareholder in Republic Services, one of America’s largest waste disposal corporations, where sanitation workers are on strike over the demand for a living wage and affordable healthcare.

Unite head of Community Liane Groves said: “There is a sad juxtaposition that Bill Gates, one of the world’s richest people worth an estimated $100 billion, is also a major shareholder in the highly profitable Republic Services company which is lamentably failing to provide decent wages and affordable healthcare to its workers.

“There is an added irony in that Bill Gates is well known as a noted philanthropist and humanitarian, but that generosity of spirit and largesse is not being replicated by a company where he has a major shareholding.

“The Cambridge demo is designed to draw attention to poverty pay and act as a wake-up call to Bill Gates to exert his considerable influence on the management of Republic Services to rectify these pay and affordable healthcare issues.

“And it should not be forgotten that in the United States sanitation is the fifth most dangerous job - sadly, more sanitation workers are injured and killed than police officers and firefighters.

“This is the grim backcloth to this dispute and shows why there needs to be an urgent resolution.”

Professor Stephen Hawking, the distinguished theoretical physicist who died in 2018, was author of the best-selling A Brief History of Time.


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

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