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