why does unite employ ISS at its HQ?

A number of migrant cleaners employed by cowboy cleaning contractor ISS in the City of London have approached The Commune, concerned about the fact that their own union UNITE has its offices cleaned by… ISS.

Well known for terrible conditions and sacking workers who tried to organise on the London Underground and elsewhere, ISS was also complicit in the immigration raid and deportation of SOAS campus cleaners last June.

One such cleaner in the City wrote to UNITE asking why they employ ISS, and received this remarkable response… Continue reading “why does unite employ ISS at its HQ?”

soas occupied! free the cleaners!

SOAS (a college of the University of London) has been occupied by student and supporters over the immigration raid which we reported recently.  SOAS management appear to have been involved in the raid, but in any case it is clear that it represents an attack on workers as a response to their decision to organise for a living wage.  The ‘two tier workforce’ is not a necesary fact, it is created and enforced through state violence.

45-50 Immigration police entered through the fire doors and the main entrance to the room and surrounded the cleaning staff; the police officers were in riot gear. They cleaners were locked in the room and then led one by one into another room, where their immigration status was checked during which they had no representation or even a translator (many staff are native Spanish speakers). A lot of the cleaners were in emotional distress. A trade union representative was refused access to the staff.  The raid was instigated by the cleaning contractor ISS who requested the police action. Two members of SOAS Management were present during the raid liasing with the police, suggesting that they had prior knowledge of the raid.9 Cleaners, five of whom are UNISON members were taken into detention. One detained cleaner was six months pregnant, she is thought to have collapsed during the events.

We cannot let this stand.

A press release from the occupation follows.  Occupiers are asking for solidarity:

1. Support at a rally at 4.30pm today on SOAS steps (off Russell Square).  Join and strengthen the occupation.

2. Messages of support to freesoascleaners@gmail.com, messages of protest to Paul Webley, SOAS Principal at pw2@soas.ac.uk – particularly appreciated from trade unionists.

3.  Occupiers blog here.  Facebook group here. Continue reading “soas occupied! free the cleaners!”

immigration raid used to attack cleaners organising at SOAS

Without any advance warning from their ISS bosses nor the university management,  cleaning staff at SOAS were confronted by a hefty team of immigration officers at 6.30am this morning (Friday 12 June). Fearful cleaners were detained on SOAS premises as the officers demanded to see their papers. Some were taken into rooms of the university to be interviewed. A shocked witness said that someone had to intervene when a heavily-pregnant cleaner was being manhandled by immigration officers. Nine cleaners were taken away by Immigration Officers. Continue reading “immigration raid used to attack cleaners organising at SOAS”

photo-report of action to defend rmt cleaners’ reps

On the morning of January 8th a series of actions were held in defence of two RMT activists victimised by their employer ISS for standing up for cleaners on the London Underground. Feminist Fightback and CAIC activists and RMT members were prominently involved. Clara Osagiede – RMT cleaners’ grade secretary – faced a disciplinary hearing on charges of “gross misconduct” for allegedly failing to return to work after a meeting, while recently elected local rep Mary Boakye, who has an eye condition caused by an injury picked up at work, was appealing against her dismissal for allegedly sleeping during working hours. In both cases the employers’ clear motivation was to break up the organising centre of the cleaners, who last year staged a strike for a ‘living wage’ of £7.45 an hour.

Photos and comments on the day’s protests below. Continue reading “photo-report of action to defend rmt cleaners’ reps”