“where are the st thomas’ disappeared? where are our workmates?”

Last month 72 workers disappeared from Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals. They were part of the hospitals’ ancillary staff. They are migrants. Where did they disappear to? The economic crisis means their cheap labour is not as useful anymore – at least for the moment. So the UK Border Agency was called in to get rid of them. The NHS trust complied. The workers were either arrested or deported.

The workers who clean the hospital and feed the patients earn around the minimum wage. And due to the UKBA the workers are not even always paid for their hard work. Isn’t this slavery?

As hospital users, as workers, as trade unionists, as migrants’ rights activists we cannot stay silent in the face of this brutality. Exactly when cuts and privatisation are threatening our public health service the exploitation of migrant labour increases. This is an attack on all workers.

We call for solidarity with the disappeared, with all migrants, with all workers, on Friday 18th February 5pm to 7pm outside St Thomas main entrance (Westminster Bridge Road London SE1 7EH). Called by the Cleaners Defence Committee, No One Is Illegal, Hands off my Workmate, Latin American Workers’ Association.

E-mail cdclondon@gmail.com or call 07971 719797 for details

hope against hope: a necessary betrayal

Nic Beuret reflects on the deeper meaning of the recent student protests

What has been taken from them to make them so angry? Hope, that’s what. Hope, and the fragile bubble of social aspiration that sustained us through decades of mounting inequality; hope and the belief that if we worked hard and did as we were told and bought the right things, some of us at least would get the good jobs and safe places to live that we’d been promised.

– Laurie Penny, New Statesman

A single image from a day of movement marks out competing visions of hope. A boot through a Millbank window fed the dreams of resistance that many in the Left have been craving since talk of austerity started. The same boot posed a question that plays out in the university occupations that preceded it and have since blossomed in its wake: what is it exactly that we are hoping for? Continue reading “hope against hope: a necessary betrayal”

saturday nov 27th, edl demo report

John Tranter attended the latest demonstration against the English Defence League.

EDL 'Sport Are Troops'

Photo credit – trevorjono

Last Saturday, the EDL marched and demonstrated through the Lancashire city of Preston, congregating on the Flagmarket and marching back down Church Street (one of Preston’s main high streets). The demonstration was rowdy and buoyant, extremely loud smoke bombs were thrown at police horses and EDL chants could be heard all over the city centre. During the march back to their coaches, a breakaway group of around 100 attempted to make a break down an alley towards the largely Asian area of Avenham, before being contained by police. Continue reading “saturday nov 27th, edl demo report”

international day of action against UBS: stand up for migrant workers!

Friday 19th March will see an international day of action in solidarity with cleaners at Swiss bank UBS in the City of London. The cleaners are facing cuts in working hours – effectively an 11 percent wage cut – and shop steward Alberto Durango has been sacked. For more background see Alberto’s article on events at the bank.

The day of action follows two strong and vibrant demonstrations on 12th February and 5th March at UBS’s 100 Liverpool Street site in London (as depicted in video). Tomorrow there will be protests in London (100 Liverpool St from 5pm), Manchester (1 Marsden St from 3pm) and also in Edinburgh, Zurich, Kyiv, Stockholm, Buenos Aires and New York. Continue reading “international day of action against UBS: stand up for migrant workers!”

cleaners are not objects to be bought and sold!

Join the protest 12 noon, Weds 18 November, Templar House, 81-87 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6NU

The cleaning contract on London Underground’s Bakerloo, Victoria and Central Lines is set to be renegotiated and a new company is expected to grab it. It is likely to demand new (and worse) conditions and will trawl again through workers’ immigration status.Cleaners, many of them migrant workers, are sick of being handed around from company to company, and continually facing poor pay and conditions. Their RMT union has called a protest in their support at the headquarters of Metronet—which is responsible for the contract. Continue reading “cleaners are not objects to be bought and sold!”

upcoming dates for activists

Friday 24th July, London: Willis picket

There will be the weekly picket at Willis tomorrow (Friday 24th) in support of the sacked cleaners and in protest at the immigration raid there last week. Meet 12.30 outside Liverpool Street station McDonalds or go straight there: 1pm, Willis Building, 51 Lime Street London EC3

Next week, Isle of Wight: Vestas occupation

Comrades are making regular visits to the occupied Vestas wind turbine factory on the Isle of Wight. Some of us will be going down in the middle of next week: email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com if you’d be interested in joining us.

Tuesday 4th August, London: Solidarity with cleaners in struggle

Public meeting called by the LRC, 6:30pm, Tuesday 4th August, Somerstown Community Centre, 150 Ossulston Street, near London Euston, with speakers including RMT cleaner activist Clara Osagiede, victimised UNITE activist Alberto Durango, John McDonnell MP,  the NUJ’s Jeremy Dear, Gill George from the UNITE exec, and the SOAS Unison cleaners’ rep.

Saturday 8th August, London: The Commune’s aggregate meeting

National organising meeting to discuss our positions, activism, meetings and publications, open to members and supporters of our network.

We have an open culture and we would encourage people interested in The Commune to attend, since we want as much feedback as possible from our activities and for people to feel a sense of ‘ownership’ over our network. 12-4pm: email
uncaptiveminds@gmail.com to register your interest and find out the venue.

willis cleaners lobby transport house – friday 29th

The next action by the cleaners working at Willis Group in the City who were unfairly dismissed by cleaning contractor Mitie will take place from 1pm on Friday 29th May at the Unite union’s London HQ. The Transport House building is located on Theobalds Road near Holborn station.

During the lobby the Mitie workers handing in a petition to Unite/T&G number two Jack Dromey, demanding that the as yet unsupportive union throws its weight behind their struggle. The Mitie cleaners have been fighting for more than three months after they were sacked for protesting a move by management to force them to work full-time night shifts – yet Unite and its “Justice for Cleaners” campaign have not lifted a finger to help them. Continue reading “willis cleaners lobby transport house – friday 29th”

willis cleaners’ demo this friday

The next of the protests organised by the sacked Mitie cleaners who had been working at Willis Group takes place this Friday, 1st May.

These migrant workers were unfairly dismissed after protesting when they were forced to work their shifts at night rather than during the day. Their campaign has been ongoing for over three months: for more details of the case and past demos see the page here, or Jake Lagnado’s article on the dispute which appeared in issue 4 of The Commune.

The workers have put up brave and sustained resistance in an inspiring struggle made all the more difficult by the Unite union bureaucrats’ refusal to help their fight.

This week’s demo is at 11:30am at the Willis building at 51 Lime Street, London EC3M (Bank/Liverpool Street). Note the change to the usual time, which is to avoid clashing with the May Day rally beginning at 1pm at Farringdon.

text of leaflet for 28th march ‘put people first’ demo

The New Labour minister Ed Balls has described the current downturn as the greatest crisis of capitalism “for over a hundred years”, and wage-freezes and mass-lay-offs are biting hard. Unemployment has now surpassed two million, February seeing a further 138,000 people forced onto the dole as a result of the biggest jobs cull since 1971.


The supposedly all-powerful market, whose authority ‘could not’ be challenged, is laid bare, as a fraud: the emperor has no clothes. The corporate press now openly mocks the free-marketeer ideology which was so central to the ruling class’s discourse only a couple of years ago. Presidents and prime ministers, too, say they are breaking with the ‘old ways’ of neo-liberalism: Gordon Brown even told the European Parliament on Tuesday 24th March:

“The problem of unbridled free markets in an unsupervised market place is that they can reduce all relationships to transactions, all motivations to self-interest, all sense of value to consumer choice and all sense of worth to a price tag.” Continue reading “text of leaflet for 28th march ‘put people first’ demo”

mitie cleaners’ demo in city of london, friday 20th march

This Friday 20th March at 13.00 hours, Latino and African cleaners employed by Mitie at global insurance brokers the Willis Group will be demonstrating outside the Willis Building, 51 Lime Street EC3 (tube: Liverpool Street or Bank).

They were made redundant because they could not change their hours as the company had demanded. Their colleagues were forced to switch from a part-time evening to full-time nocturnal shift, or resigned. Cleaning companies have been trying to enforce this change in a number of key locations in London. Typically it seems to happen just as they win the Living Wage, and key activists seem to suffer.

In this case it is the shop steward Edwin Pazmiro and three colleagues. The company’s latest tactic was a legal scare letter demanding they stop the protests. It hasn’t worked. Please bring anything visible (banners etc) and anything noisy! Continue reading “mitie cleaners’ demo in city of london, friday 20th march”

photo-report of protest against welfare reform bill

Today a group of protesters staged a demonstration inside a Government building as part of a Week of Action in opposition to controversial welfare reforms.

Dozens of activists stormed into a Department for Work and Pensions building in Westminster, shouting slogans and saying they were going to occupy the offices.

The protesters, from groups including Feminist Fightback and anti-poverty organisations, were dressed as bankers. They described the Government’s planned legislation as the “welfare abolition Bill” and claimed the measures would virtually abolish welfare for single parents and disabled people.

One of the protesters, Anne-Marie O’Reilly, from Feminist Fightback and London Coalition Against Poverty, said: “Everyone knows that the Government’s welfare Bill was designed by ex-banker David Freud.

“Even if it weren’t for the banks’ track records, the fact that he has recently defected to the Tories should make it clear this Bill needs to be thrown out.  They will throw us out of the building today, but we think it’s time they really throw the bankers and their interests out of Whitehall and stop penalising poor people, disabled people and single mothers.”

Another activist, Alice Robson, said: “The Government is bailing out the banks and giving them bonuses whilst cutting welfare benefits for the poor.  This Bill does not make sense – the Government should be targeting the rich not the poor to pay for their crisis.”

On this website recently we have published three articles looking at changes in the welfare system: Joe Thorne’s overview of the Welfare Reform Bill and this week’s Week of Action, Christine Hulme on Jobcentre privatisation and Chris Grover on unemployment under Brown and the recession.

See below for photos of today’s action. Continue reading “photo-report of protest against welfare reform bill”

demo for reinstatement of mitie cleaners

On Thursday 5th was the latest in a series of protests in support of cleaners unfairly dismissed by Mitie. The sackings came when the workers objected to being forced to work their full-time shifts at night.


Despite management threats and the weak stance taken by the Unite union, the demo, outside the City of London offices of the insurance broker Willis, attracted over thirty people. This was an improvement on the previous actions on Tuesdays and Thursdays over the last couple of weeks. The noisy protest used chants such as “Mitie, shame on you!” and “The workers, united, will never be defeated” (in English and Spanish).

Some photos are posted below. For pictures, reports and a video of previous actions, see here.

Continue reading “demo for reinstatement of mitie cleaners”

video of mitie cleaners’ protest

On Thursday 26th was held the second of this week’s demonstrations in the City of London in support of the cleaners working for Willis victimised by Mitie, and twenty people – including cleaner activists and their supporters – turned out and mounted a strong display of solidarity in spite of the Unite union’s failure to do anything to help them. See here for reports on previous protests and posts outlining the dispute.