The next demo in support of the sacked Mitie cleaners will take place in the City of London on the afternoon of Friday 3rd April. It is the latest in a series of actions organised by the migrant workers, who have been kicked out of their jobs working as Mitie cleaners for the Willis insurance group after protesting at being forced to work at night-time rather than during the day.
The struggle is an excelent example of self-organisation, coming up against the resistance of the Unite union bureaucracy and their “Justice for Cleaners” campaign, which seems more a means of recruiting members and taking dues for the union coffers than it does a way of organising successful struggles. As Alberto Einstein Durango – a cleaner activist working at Schroders bank who has been central to the Mitie/Willis campaign – explained at The Commune’s forum on Monday night, the workers will fight based on their own strength and own collective-decision making, with or without the Unite “organisers”.
The demo starts at 1pm outside the Willis building at 51 Lime Street, London EC3M (Bank/Liverpool Street). For more info on the dispute and reports on recent actions, see the page here.
5 thoughts on “demo for mitie cleaners, friday 3rd april”
‘The struggle is an excelent example of self-organisation, coming up against the resistance of the Unite union bureaucracy and their “Justice for Cleaners” campaign, which seems more a means of recruiting members and taking dues for the union coffers than it does a way of organising successful struggles’
Thats a very unfair comment to make considering the amount of organising campaigns the Unite /TGWU section have been involved in in the last 5 years. Many of the campaigns have been bottom up with offical support eg TNT,FlyBe, Food campaigns etc etc etc
The cleaners themselves say Justice for Cleaners has become a business rather than a real orgnaising campaing. That doesn’t necessarily rule out Unite doing other good things, or even mean Justice for Cleaners wasnt a good initiative at first.
Well done to those involved in this campaign… very inspiring.
Does anyone know if the Mitie cleaners are covered by the ‘zonal agreements’ (which only provided for recognition in buildings over a certain size, and employing a certain number of cleaners) which T&G signed to conclude the Justice for Cleaners campaign?
i.e. is the issue that they were left out of the settlement, or that T&G isn’t supporting those covered by the settlement in fighting for jobs?
I believe so, because otherwise the union wouldn’t have been working with them to unionise the building, fight for the living wage, have a shop steward in place etc. Things that only happen in the buildings they target: the Justice for Cleaners wouldn’t touch others. Those buildings had to fulfil certain conditions: be of a certain size in terms of numbers of workers; the cleaning company will be one of those which recognised the union (MItie, Lancaster, OCS, ISS and a few others), and the building has to be in the City or Canary Wharf (the ‘zones’). Resources were not put into workplaces which didnt meet these criteria, even where there was interest from the workforce.
The union’s argument in this case as far as I can tell – they’ve been silent to the outside world on this – is that they brokered the best deal they could in the face of the switch from evening working to all-night working. So last year some started on the all-night shift (those that could) while others were given temporary posts elsewhere with a view to eventually relocating them. Maybe this is where the main battle was lost – believing the company/union would sort it for the latter group. But I dont think its an excuse to refuse support to those who have been stuffed because of the way it turned out,
including the shop steward and union organisation in the building generally.
Those who are now left fighting are those who Mitie could supposedly not accommodate with the same 7pm start time on any of its other contracts once their temporary positions ended. They were then made a series of unsuitable offers, which they initially refused but then agreed to, just asking to start at 6.45pm instead of 6.30pm, only for Mitie to refuse.
This was all something of a drip drip process over many months, with some cleaners tiring of the situation and leaving voluntarily along the way. Others who started on the all-night shift appear to have since left it, so that the current cleaning workforce at Willis includes virtually none of those who originally started this time last year.
This switch coincided with the opening of the new Willis Building, the transfer of the workforce from the old Willis building, and the signing of a new contract between Mitie and Willis.
The union has not publicized its own version of events and the cleaners concerned will be putting out their own detailed version shortly.
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