by Chris Ford, UNITE Clerkenwell & St. Pancras 0694M branch organiser
At a so-called disciplinary hearing Lancaster Cleaning Services have sacked UNITE shop-steward and leader of the Latin American Workers Association Alberto Durango. The company took over the contract for the Union Bank of Switzerland on Monday 1 February; they suspended him on the Tuesday and sacked him on Thursday 4 February. This premeditated act is part of their efforts to break the union at UBS.
Lancaster were hired by UBS to replace the company Mitie, despite this banking giant making profits of $14 billion they hired a notorious anti-union firm to ensure they pay even less to their cleaners. Ignoring the protection afforded by TUPE, workers were told they are to have their wages cut via a reduction in their hours! The workers lodged a grievance; in response they have sacked Alberto their shop-steward.
Alberto was called to a ‘disciplinary hearing’ to ‘discuss that we cannot continue to employ you’ – it was a kangaroo court. They refused to recognise him as a UNITE shop-steward. The reasons they gave were that he had worked for them before and he was sacked for ‘dishonesty’. Alberto previously worked for Lancaster for over a decade, only when he became a union activist did they target him. A series of allegations were thrown at Alberto, they orchestrated his arrest by the Home Office based on false claims. He was released without charge. Lancaster then sacked Alberto regardless claiming he never worked for them under his true identity. After his dismissal the company then admitted following a union appeal he had in fact worked for them in his true identity after all!
Lancaster have ignored the ongoing Tribunal case against his previous dismissal, they have ignored his rights under TUPE and are openly blacklisting union activists. The Union Bank of Switzerland and Lancaster are partners in crime. Many activists of the labour movement and organisations have responded to the appeal for solidarity. Let’s step up the mobilisation for the demonstration on 12 February, we are now protesting at the main UBS site where Alberto was sacked. Make this a mass protest to start turning the tide on the union busters.
Reinstate Alberto – Hands off Our Union
Friday 12 February 1:00 PM,
Outside UBS Capital, 100 Liverpool Street, London EC2M 2RH (note: changed from original venue)
Latin American Workers Association; The Commune; La Comuna; Colombia Solidarity Campaign; Permanent Revolution; National Shop Stewards’ Network; Labour Representation Committee, Brent Trades Union Council, Rifondazione Comunista, Workers’ Liberty, International Federation of Iraqi Refugees, Coalition to Stop Deportations to Iraq, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!; Green Left; The Prisma, multicultural newspaper; Feminist Fightback; London Coalition Against Poverty; Oxford and District Trade Union Council, Campaign Against Immigration Controls; Global Afrikan Congressuk; RMT Black and Ethnic Members; RMT Finsbury Park 0543 Branch; Black Workers for Justice – europe; Turbulence; IWW London; English for Action
John McDonnell MP; Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, Steve Hedley RMT (LUL) Regional Organiser; Professor Gregor Gall, Research Professor of Industrial Relations, University of Hertfordshire; Pete Firmin, LRC Co-National Secretary; George Binette, Camden UNISON Branch Secretary (pc); Derek Wall, General Election Candidate for Windsor/former Green Party principal Speaker, Jerry Hicks, UNITE General Secretary Candidate, Vaughan Thomas, RMT (LUL) Regional President, Paul Haste, Morning Star industrial reporter; Leslie Sklair, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics; Monica del Pilar Uribe, journalist; Jeremy Dear, General Secretary, NUJ
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