Today around forty people demonstrated outside the Willis Group building at Lime Street in the City of London in an emergency demo called to demand justice for Mitie cleaners snatched by immigration police in a raid on July 14th (the underhand nature of the vile operation is detailed here). As well as shouting slogans against border controls in English and Spanish, protesters demanded the payment of wages and the granting of holidays to the detained workers.
An advertisement for the protest explained “Cleaners’ campaign successes are being clawed back in a series of attacks on those who have fought for improved wages and conditions. The latest victims are a group of cleaners who work for the services company Mitie. They were asked to come to the site of Willis Insurance brokers for a chemicals training course but instead were met by immigration officers. Nine cleaners: Alejandro, Hermes Ayala, José Sorriso, Karina Cruz, Cintia, Sonia and Sebastián Desolsa and two others were detained. This action is in the wake of months of weekly protests organised by a group of former Mitie cleaners and their supporters including shop steward Edwin Pazmino, who were sacked for refusing to work a longer night shift.
“Lancaster, another cleaning company has also seen fit to try to rid its ranks of trade union activists. On May 7 2009 Alberto Durango, a Justice for Cleaners activist was invited to the company under false pretences and arrested by police and immigration officers. After handcuffing him, searching his home and confiscating political material, his papers were found to be in order and he was eventually released with a warning.
“Next it was the early morning SOAS raid, the timing of which coincided with the fierce struggle of José Stalin Bermúdez, a UNISON branch chair and former cleaner at SOAS who was sacked again under false pretences by the company ISS after he helped cleaners fight against poverty pay.
“These are but a few examples of a stepped-up campaign by companies to get rid of fighting workers – by any means necessary. Yes, the cleaners are from different sites, the unions involved may vary, but the issue remains the same. Cleaners who fight to improve their conditions – eventually come under attack.”
LONDON PUBLIC MEETING ON TUESDAY AUGUST 4
A public meeting has been called by the Labour Representation Commitee for Tuesday 4th August to discuss solidarity with the cleaners in struggle and affected by these raids. Download pdf leaflet here.
Tuesday 4th August, 6:30pm
Somerstown Community Centre, 150 Ossulston Street, London, NW1 1EE, (5 minutes from Euston Station)