mitie cleaners petition unite to support their struggle

Update on the Mitie cleaners’ fight (next demo: 1pm, Friday 12th, HBOS, 33 Old Broad Street, London EC3)

Four cleaners sacked by cleaning contractor Mitie at City insurance giant The Willis Group handed in a cross-union and community petition to the Unite union last Friday lunchtime, asking deputy General Secretary Jack Dromey to give full support to their four month old campaign for reinstatement.

The petition has attracted the support of Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, who met with shop steward Edwin Pazmino earlier in the week. Union notables such as Jane Loftus (CWU vice-president) and Jerry Hicks (recent Left challenger to Unite co-president Derek Simpson) also featured, along with Unite’s London construction branch and Ford Visteon Enfield workers. Meanwhile the involvement of Latin American workers has attracted the support of a host of Latin American community organisations.

The workers handed in the petition accompanied by Unite activist Alberto Durango, who was arrested in a company sting whilst playing a leading role in winning support for the campaign at his own workplace and the wider trade union movement.

They were accompanied by a lively crowd of trade unionists and other supporters, who were addressed by Pazmino and others at outside Transport House beforehand. Many were decked out in Unite colours and those of the Justice for Cleaners flagship campaign. It was through this campaign that the Willis cleaners had won the Living Wage, only for the company to respond by switching to all-night working, slashing the workforce in the process.

The only sour note on the day was when a subject emerged from inside the union offices to film the people present. When questioned he disappeared into nearby streets rather than give any explanations. The Latin American Workers Association, which helped organize the petition, will be asking the union for a full investigation.

Meanwhile the cleaners and their supporters have pledged to continue their weekly pickets of Mitie sites, and to continue gathering support through the petition and public meetings, possibly at the House of Commons.

Willis campaign info: 07904 329 679 / 07818 667 192

One thought on “mitie cleaners petition unite to support their struggle

  1. The petition to Jack Dromey:

    Dear Brother Jack

    Please find attached the cross-union and community petition we have collected in support of the Open Letter to you (also attached).

    In the Open Letter, we urge you to reverse the decision in your letter to us of 30 April 2009, refusing to us support and representation in our dispute. This is on the basis of a serious factual error in your letter, and broader principles – as explained in the Open Letter (and previously in our email to you of 11 May 2009)

    We wish to highlight just some examples of the support we have received for this petition:

    – Jeremy Corbyn MP
    – John McDonnell MP
    – Ford /Visteon workers (Enfield)
    – Unite London construction branch
    – Jerry Hicks
    – Coordinadora Latinoamericana
    – NUJ Guardian chapel
    – Justice for Cleaners members (Unite 1/2007 and 1/1700 branches)
    – Bloomsbury Living Wage Campaign (central London universities)

    This is in addition to widespread coverage in Latin American media like Noticias. We have addressed a wide range of meetings from National Shop Stewards Network to Unite branches to Latin American community and received great moral and financial support.

    We have been demonstrating for four months now every week against two huge companies. We have suffered legal threats and had no legal advice to deal with this. We want our union, Britain’s biggest union, to come over to our side again and not act like a third adversary.

    We also take this opportunity to ask for full support, legal advice and proper representation for Alberto Durango, a Justice for Cleaners activist who has provided us with overwhelming solidarity both personally and from Lancaster cleaners and who was arrested recently on account of his union activity.** This company attack is also an attack on us and our struggle.

    We look forward to hearing from you and would like to meet as soon as possible to devise a joint strategy.

    Yours sincerely

    Edwin Pazmino (shop stewards at Willis)

    Lucinda Villarroel

    Etelvina Cristo

    Domingas Dias

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