Many readers of The Commune will know Alberto Einstein Durango, a Colombian activist who worked as a cleaner at Schroders in the City of London, has recently been involved in the Mitie/Willis dispute and also spoke at a recent public meeting of ours.
Yesterday morning after attending a construction workers’ demo at the Olympic stadium site he was called to a meeting at his employer, the cleaning contractor Lancaster, at 9.15am, under the pretense that he was due to be offered new work. Upon arrival he was met by four policemen, and arrested on suspicion of working under a false name (i.e. without appropriate papers).
The police took Alberto in handcuffs to his house, questioning him on why he had socialist papers in his bags (he had picked up several at the demo…). He also had a DVD concerning the Tamil struggle about his person (having been given a free copy at a meeting) and the police remarked upon his possession of “terrorist” propaganda. All these materials were confiscated and his house searched before he was taken to Peckham police station.
In reality, Alberto had come to the UK ten years ago on a temporary student visa, and when it expired after four years his employer Lancaster told him to assume a false name so he could continue working. Alberto kept working under a false name after getting his indefinite leave to remain, and only now after he has become a leading labour activist has this same employer chosen to raise the issue of his immigration status, involving the police.
Fortunately Alberto escaped with a caution, and was released by 8pm. But this was a clear case of victimisation and as a result Alberto has now lost all the benefits accrued during 10 years’ employment, such as the right to redundancy pay, as well as his job itself (he was until recently on suspension with pay).
For his part, Alberto is adamant that “the fight is only just beginning”.
The next Mitie/Willis demo is this Friday 8th May – meeting point is 12.45 at Liverpool Street station or 1pm at Willis, Lime Street, EC3M, before proceeding to HBOS, Old Broad Street (where the cleaners had also been working for Mitie) at 1:30pm.