report: latin american workers’ association conference

60 Latin American workers meet to elect a new committee for the Association.

The general assembly of the Latin American Workers’ Association began at 4:30pm on Saturday 15th August, at SOAS university.

Derek Wall, national representative of the Green Party, opened the event before the reading of messages of support from various parts of the trade union movement, such as the Unite hotels and restaurants branch and the RMT transport union. This was followed by a detailed presentation of the Association’s activities in terms of education, voluntary work and campaigns in defence of Latin American workers.

Among the points which stood out most, we might mention the 7th October 2006 “No-one Is Illegal” march; the 7th May 2007 “March for regularisation”; that same May the fight against the abuse of staff by OCS bosses at the BBC; the March 2008 creation of the Campaign Against Immigration Controls (CAIC); in September the start of the campaign in solidarity with workers sacked by Amey at the National Physical Laboratory.

In 2009, working with the London Coalition Against Poverty, we highlighted the abuses by ICM against the staff working in Fitness First gyms: the Association’s actions meant that all wages were paid in full no matter what the worker’s status, and some of the managers were dismissed. At the same time a group of workers were sacked by MITIE, and when Unite did not offer union backing, the Latin American Workers’ Association assumed the role of supporting the workers and calling weekly pickets outside the building. The conflict became more bitter – and won more backing – when MITIE invited workers to attend a demonstration of chemical products, only to be met by immigration police. This action sparked solidarity from various human rights groups, who every Friday carry out pickets in front of the Willis offices. Finally, Sandy Nichol, secretary of SOAS Unison, was introduced to the meeting by Latin American members, and gave a report on the educational and protest activities due to be carried out in September in response to an immigration raid which recently took place at the institution.

This was followed by the election of a new committee, comprised of Diana Aramayo, Marlene Jiménez, Bélgica Guano, Katerina Annis, Guillermo Sánchez, Alberto Durango, Jake Lagnado, Miguel Puerto, Jorge Perdomo, Edwin Pasmino and Juan C Piedra.

The new leadership made a call for the whole Latin American community to actively participate in all its campaigns with the slogan “United we are stronger”.