The Cleaners’ Defence Committee, established earlier this year to organise solidarity with migrant workers in the City of London, has called two actions in solidarity with low-paid cleaners at the plush Berns Salonger nightclub in Stockholm.
These workers have been in dispute for 21 weeks, with a series of mass pickets in protest at illegally low wages, victimisation and shifts as long as 22 hours. Our protest is against the British concern London & Regional Properties, which owns the nightclub.
ACTION 1: Priority action is for a mass call in to the offices of London & Regional Properties at 2-3pm, Monday 2 August 2010. It is also requested that people phone after 3pm as well if they cannot do so earlier. Please tell London & Regional that you demand that Berns begin negotiations with the SAC union immediately to resolve the dispute. In addition please send emails to London & Regional on Monday 2 August as part of the call out, though the priority is the mass call in.
London & Regional Properties Limited
8th Floor, 55 Baker Street
London W1U 8EW
Tel: +44 (0) 207 563 9000
ACTION 2: There will be a mass demonstration outside the offices of London & Regional on Friday 13 August 2010 from 4-6pm. Details to follow. Please ensure that you speak to your comrades, colleagues, fellow workers and friends and keep some time to attend the demonstration in two weeks.
SUMMARY OF DISPUTE:
London & Regional Properties owns the Berns Salonger company that the cleaners and their union the SAC are in dispute with.
For months now the SAC union in Sweden has been locked into a fierce confrontation with the Nightclub “Berns”. Berns have a notorious record for mistreating cleaning staff, which it has avoided responsibility for through subcontractors. Cleaning staff work inhumane hours, sometimes up to 22 hours a day 7 days a week, sleeping on cardboard boxes in the workplace. With the main Swedish union LO, unwilling to organise these paperless workers, the Swedish Workers Central Organisation (SAC), have successfully organised the cleaners of the nightclub, campaigned for better conditions, higher pay, less hours, and above all, dignity for the staff. The result of each struggle (won by blockades of the night club) has been that Berns bosses have moved the cleaners form one staffing company to another.
The SAC organised cleaning staff have worked now for seven years and for three different companies. All the time, conditions have been criminal. The SAC have argued that Berns has a responsibility for these people, from Bolivia, Peru, Mongolia and Chile, since they have moved them from one staffing company to another only to avoid responsibility for their exploitation. Now the employing company NCA (sub-contractor for Berns) has fired all the cleaners at Berns’ nightclub due to “economic problems”. Berns still needs cleaning. Berns has attempted to look respectable by saying it would hire back some of the staff directly, and offered them continued work, however all the union-organised cleaners have been left out. This is good old fashioned union busting.
After months of blockading, the cracks are starting to show. Booked DJs and Artists have refused to play at Berns, forcing them to cancel events. A media offensive has labeled the SAC a mafia, who does not care for the workers but rather wants to squeeze money out of businesses.
A message from the SAC reads:
“We write to you with a call for international solidarity. SAC in Sweden is involved in the biggest blockade struggle for at least the last ten years in Sweden. Hundreds of people have been involved in the picket lines two times a week since 26/2. The company that we are in conflict with is Berns Salonger, owned by the British concern London Regional. We beg of you to help us in this fight.”
The Cleaners Defence Committee is a network of cleaners, workers and militants who have supported migrant workers in their struggles in London for fair treatment and a living wage. The best form of defence is solidarity and we must unite now to support our fellow workers in struggle in Sweden. Please distribute this call out far and wide and ensure that you prepare to support the picket and demonstration on Friday 13 August 2010.