by Jack Staunton
On Friday 23rd April the traditional St. George’s Day celebrations returned to the City of London after a 425-year gap: but the streets of this capital of capital also witnessed events more internationalist in character.
As many as 100 people turned out for the latest in a series of demonstrations in solidarity with the migrant cleaners at Swiss bank UBS. The widely-supported campaign against an effective 11% pay cut and the victimisation of shop steward Alberto Durango has put management on the back foot (more details soon) and also served as a rallying point for a number of inter-related struggles.
After the announcement of the impending deportation of a recent-ex-UBS cleaner last week when he was informed on by cowboy contractor Lancaster, the lines of battle are clear. Europe’s second biggest bank, its hireling Lancaster and, sadly, the UNITE union, want to snuff out the collective action of a group of mostly female low-paid migrant workers. The fight is only just beginning: this kind of struggle is typical of what is necessary to recomposing the workers’ movement in Britain.
José Sagaz from the Bolivia Solidarity Campaign was among a number of speakers who pointed to the role of imperialism in driving workers from their own countries to the West, where they are exploited and stigmatised.
The shoddy role of UNITE in the dispute highlighted the need for the workers to have their own autonomous decision-making structures. An IWW cleaners’ branch has been launched.
Contrasting logos: but our solidarity is stronger than their greed.
Another strong turnout showed the momentum of the campaign and appreciation of the cleaners’ continued resolve almost three months into the dispute.
A Cleaners’ Defence Committee has been established in support of cleaners’ struggles in London, join the Facebook group here. Given the precarious nature of the work and the risks involved in campaigning, the meetings are not ‘public’, so email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an invite.