solidarity with UBS cleaners: demo 5th march

The next demonstration in solidarity with cleaners working for contractor Lancaster at Swiss bank UBS will take place from 1pm on Friday 5th March outside the bank’s 100 Liverpool Street office, in London. See below for a video of the previous protest, which attracted over 70 people.

We are demanding a reversal of planned cuts in cleaners’ working hours, as well as the reinstatement of Alberto Durango who was sacked by Lancaster because of his organising work. Continue reading “solidarity with UBS cleaners: demo 5th march”

report: latin american workers’ association conference

60 Latin American workers meet to elect a new committee for the Association.

The general assembly of the Latin American Workers’ Association began at 4:30pm on Saturday 15th August, at SOAS university.

Derek Wall, national representative of the Green Party, opened the event before the reading of messages of support from various parts of the trade union movement, such as the Unite hotels and restaurants branch and the RMT transport union. This was followed by a detailed presentation of the Association’s activities in terms of education, voluntary work and campaigns in defence of Latin American workers. Continue reading “report: latin american workers’ association conference”

exposed: soas unison, rmt and unite cleaner activists in the pay of the bosses

by Chris Kane

According to shocking information obtained by The Commune, union activists, with cleaning companies organised with UNISON (SOAS), RMT (LUL) and UNITE (Mitie and Lancaster) – are in the pay of the bosses!

This is of course a pack of lies, nevertheless it is a disgusting lie being officially circulated, in writing by a senior full-time official of UNITE, Jose Vallejo Villa un-elected organiser responsible for cleaners. Continue reading “exposed: soas unison, rmt and unite cleaner activists in the pay of the bosses”

anti-deportations demo highlights repression of migrant worker organising

Today around forty people demonstrated outside the Willis Group building at Lime Street in the City of London in an emergency demo called to demand justice for Mitie cleaners snatched by immigration police in a raid on July 14th (the underhand nature of the vile operation is detailed here). As well as shouting slogans against border controls in English and Spanish, protesters demanded the payment of wages and the granting of holidays to the detained workers.


An advertisement for the protest explained “Cleaners’ campaign successes are being clawed back in a series of attacks on those who have fought for improved wages and conditions. The latest victims are a group of cleaners who work for the services company Mitie. They were asked to come to the site of Willis Insurance brokers for a chemicals training course but instead were met by immigration officers. Nine cleaners: Alejandro, Hermes Ayala, José Sorriso, Karina Cruz, Cintia, Sonia and  Sebastián Desolsa and two others were detained. This action is in the wake of months of weekly protests organised by a group of former Mitie cleaners and their supporters including shop steward Edwin Pazmino, who were sacked for refusing to work a longer night shift. Continue reading “anti-deportations demo highlights repression of migrant worker organising”

testimony of a mitie worker in an immigration detention centre

Seven cleaners were detained after a raid by immigration police on 14th July, which took place with the complicity of Mitie and Willis. Among our detained sisters and brothers are Alejandro, Hermes Ayala, José Sorriso, Karina Cruz, Cintia, Sonia and Sebastián Desolsa. We are demanding that their salaries are paid and that they win 20 days holiday.

Her name is Lidia, and she said that at 4am there was going to be a meeting about chemicals in the Willis building, and that at 5 in the morning in the basement they would be given times for day-time and early morning shifts. She says that she had an ominous feeling about the timing of these meetings. When she arrived in this room, the manager Donna Sidley and another woman called Ivon were laughing their heads off. Everyone started coming in, with the illegal workers on one side and the legal immigrants on the other – the undocumented workers already separated out – and Donna took a chemical bottle and said for what purpose this or that bottle served. Continue reading “testimony of a mitie worker in an immigration detention centre”

update on cleaner activism in london

Alberto Durango’s appeal: A very lively demonstration of trade unionists joined victimised rep Alberto Durango at his appeal with Lancaster Cleaning Company on Friday 3rd July. The demonstration was endorsed by John McDonnell MP and numerous other figures from the labour movement.

The employer was presented with a powerful case for Alberto’s reinstatement and responded saying they are re-investigating as a result of new evidence. In fact the evidence in question was predominantly Lancaster’s own company records, an indictment of their decision to sack Alberto in the first place.

LRC Supports Willis cleaners and Alberto: The National Committee of the Labour Representation Committee has added its voice in support of the Willis cleaners and Alberto. Continue reading “update on cleaner activism in london”

alberto durango: ‘i am for justice and the truth’

Alberto Durango is a cleaner activist who has  repeatedly been victimised for his prominent role in union organising. In this piece he charts workers’ attempts to get a better deal and Unite’s abandonment of their struggle.


I came to London in 1995 running away from persecution by paramilitary groups because of my union activities with the banana workers in Uraba (Colombia).  When I was new in London, despite my sense of justice, on several occasions I had to put my head down and let bosses commit abuses and steal my salary just because of my immigration status. Continue reading “alberto durango: ‘i am for justice and the truth’”

mitie cleaners petition unite to support their struggle

Update on the Mitie cleaners’ fight (next demo: 1pm, Friday 12th, HBOS, 33 Old Broad Street, London EC3)

Four cleaners sacked by cleaning contractor Mitie at City insurance giant The Willis Group handed in a cross-union and community petition to the Unite union last Friday lunchtime, asking deputy General Secretary Jack Dromey to give full support to their four month old campaign for reinstatement.

The petition has attracted the support of Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, who met with shop steward Edwin Pazmino earlier in the week. Union notables such as Jane Loftus (CWU vice-president) and Jerry Hicks (recent Left challenger to Unite co-president Derek Simpson) also featured, along with Unite’s London construction branch and Ford Visteon Enfield workers. Meanwhile the involvement of Latin American workers has attracted the support of a host of Latin American community organisations. Continue reading “mitie cleaners petition unite to support their struggle”

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”

report on ‘strangers into citizens’ demonstration

by David Broder

Today several thousand people marched from Elephant & Castle and Westminster to London’s Trafalgar Square in a demonstration calling for the regularisation of undocumented immigrants.


The organisers of the march, London Citizens, have an extremely conservative stance similar to that of Mayor Boris Johnson, commenting on their website that they have been “calling for the Government to implement a one-off regularisation measure that would allow refused asylum seekers and visa overstayers who have put down roots in Britain to become legal. Campaigners argue that strict conditions – residence of at least four years followed by a two-year “pathway” period, a clean criminal record, good English, character references, etc. – should be applied.”

However, others on the march argued that immigrants should not only be let stay because of “good behaviour” or because they are hard-working (i.e. making a business case for exploiting migrants) but rather because everyone has a right to settle where they please. Continue reading “report on ‘strangers into citizens’ demonstration”

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.

mitie cleaners take on city of london bosses

Today was the latest in a series of demos organised by Mitie cleaners working at Willis Group in the City of London, unfairly dismissed after standing up to management attacks. Such protests take place at the Willis building on Bank’s Lime Street every Friday at 1pm (email for info). Jake Lagnado wrote this piece for The Commune about the importance of this fight.


The story

In mid-2007 around 25 cleaners at multinational insurance brokers the Willis Group based in the City of London began to organise under the umbrella of Unite’s Justice for Cleaners campaign, for the campaign’s main demands of the ‘living wage’ rather than the minimum wage. Continue reading “mitie cleaners take on city of london bosses”

demo for mitie cleaners, friday 3rd april

The next demo in support of the sacked Mitie cleaners will take place in the City of London on the afternoon of Friday 3rd April. It is the latest in a series of actions organised by the migrant workers, who have been kicked out of their jobs working as Mitie cleaners for the Willis insurance group after protesting at being forced to work at night-time rather than during the day.


The struggle is an excelent example of self-organisation, coming up against the resistance of the Unite union bureaucracy and their “Justice for Cleaners” campaign, which seems more a means of recruiting members and taking dues for the union coffers than it does a way of organising successful struggles. As Alberto Einstein Durango – a cleaner activist working at Schroders bank who has been central to the Mitie/Willis campaign – explained at The Commune’s forum on Monday night, the workers will fight based on their own strength and own collective-decision making, with or without the Unite “organisers”.

The demo starts at 1pm outside the Willis building at 51 Lime Street, London EC3M (Bank/Liverpool Street). For more info on the dispute and reports on recent actions, see the page here.

report of demo for mitie/willis cleaners in city of london

Defiant City cleaners stepped up their protest against victimisation yesterday with another noisy demonstration outside the plush offices of a multi-national insurance firm.


The four union activists were recently sacked from their jobs by cleaning privateer Mitie after organising a union and winning the London Living Wage at the Willis building in the heart of London’s financial district as part of Unite union’s Justice for Cleaners campaign.

The protest is the latest in a series of demonstrations against the treatment by the cleaning contractor and was joined by workers who clean other financial towers in the Square Mile. Continue reading “report of demo for mitie/willis cleaners in city of london”