by David Broder
On Friday 12th February over seventy people braved the cold to join a protest outside Swiss bank UBS’s City of London headquarters in solidarity with cleaner activist Alberto Durango, victimised by contractor Lancaster for his organising work (see here for his article on the situation).
Chants of “the workers united will never be defeated” and “Lancaster, shame on you” rang out through the cloisters of that cathedral of capital 100 Liverpool Street, despite the City police’s best efforts to keep us off the privatised pavement. Speeches from Alberto Durango, Chris Ford, UNITE general secretary candidate Jerry Hicks and representatives of the Colombia Solidarity Campaign, Bloomsbury Living Wage Campaign and Campaign Against Immigration Controls complemented a lively protest.
Alberto is feared by cleaning contractors like Lancaster because of his previous involvement in struggles for a ‘living wage’ rather than accepting the minimum wage: the placard on the left hints at his involvement in the successful Schroders struggle. It is imperative that these workers are in control of their struggle, particularly given that the UNITE union leadership hopes to try and silence them.
The UK Borders Agency and border controls more broadly have repeatedly been used to intimidate or even expel migrant workers prepared to stand up for their rights. With the current crisis leading to increasing scapegoating of foreigners, migrants’ struggles must be at the heart of resistance to the recession.
Guardians of capital: the police sent a detachment to keep us away from the UBS building. What better sign could there be of whose interests they serve, than their lining up to ‘protect’ a bank HQ from a peaceful protest in defence of one of its office cleaners’ jobs?
“We’ll be back and that’s a fact”. Much as the police don’t like it, the struggle to reinstate Alberto continues, indeed as part of a broader fightback against the current offensive against the working class and migrant workers in particular. An organising meeting is to be held on Monday evening: email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.