update – alberto durango sacked: mobilise for 12th february demo!

by Chris Ford, UNITE Clerkenwell & St. Pancras 0694M branch organiser

At a so-called disciplinary hearing Lancaster Cleaning Services have sacked UNITE shop-steward and leader of the Latin American Workers Association Alberto Durango. The company took over the contract for the Union Bank of Switzerland on Monday 1 February; they suspended him on the Tuesday and sacked him on Thursday 4 February. This premeditated act is part of their efforts to break the union at UBS.

Lancaster were hired by UBS to replace the company Mitie, despite this banking giant making profits of $14 billion they hired a notorious anti-union firm to ensure they pay even less to their cleaners. Ignoring the protection afforded by TUPE, workers were told they are to have their wages cut via a reduction in their hours! The workers lodged a grievance; in response they have sacked Alberto their shop-steward. Continue reading “update – alberto durango sacked: mobilise for 12th february demo!”

free valentin urusov!

by Simon Pirani

An international campaign has been launched for the release of Valentin Urusov, a Russian miner framed up and imprisoned after recruiting workmates to a union.  

Urusov, an employee of Alrosa, the diamond mining company, is serving six years’ hard labour for an obviously fabricated offence (possession of drugs).   Continue reading “free valentin urusov!”

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”

unite ‘united left’ no-platforms victimised activist alberto durango

by Chris Kane

There was uproar at the UNITE London ‘united left’ on Thursday night when any discussion of the Mitie workers’ dispute at Willis was blocked and the sacked UNITE cleaners rep at Schroeders, Alberto Durango, was denied the opportunity to address the meeting.

Two branch officers from the Clerkenwell and St.Pancras Branch of UNITE who have supported the sacked cleaners attended the meeting – the Secretary Monica Gort and the Organiser Chris Ford, and also some lay reps. They came with Alberto a member of the UNITE Cleaners Branch Committee. They attended expecting to secure solidarity from other UNITE activists in London in widening support for the cleaners and to back calls for Asst. General Secretary Jack Dromey to reverse his withdrawal of support for the dispute. The complete opposite occurred. Continue reading “unite ‘united left’ no-platforms victimised activist alberto durango”

victimisation of alberto einstein durango

Many readers of The Commune will know Alberto Einstein Durango, a Colombian activist who worked as a cleaner at Schroders in the City of London, has recently been involved in the Mitie/Willis dispute and also spoke at a recent public meeting of ours.

Yesterday morning after attending a construction workers’ demo at the Olympic stadium site he was called to a meeting at his employer, the cleaning contractor Lancaster, at 9.15am, under the pretense that he was due to be offered new work. Upon arrival he was met by four policemen, and arrested on suspicion of working under a false name (i.e. without appropriate papers).

The police took Alberto in handcuffs to his house, questioning him on why he had socialist papers in his bags (he had picked up several at the demo…). He also had a DVD concerning the Tamil struggle about his person (having been given a free copy at a meeting) and the police remarked upon his possession of “terrorist” propaganda. All these materials were confiscated and his house searched before he was taken to Peckham police station. Continue reading “victimisation of alberto einstein durango”

rob williams sacked – step up the struggle

Rob Williams, trade union Convenor of Linamar Swansea and vice chair of the National Shop Stewards’ Network, was sacked by the Linamar management last week, and then temporarily re-instated following militant action by the Linamar workforce.


Disgracefully, however, Rob today had his sacking confirmed. Negotiations between Linamar management and Tony Woodley took place all day in London, but Linamar did not shift. Continue reading “rob williams sacked – step up the struggle”

defend joseph stalin!

Frequent readers of The Commune may be surprised to read the above headline.  In fact, we have not decided to abandon reappraising the communist project for a merger with the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist).   But we do support workers victimised for organising at work, an increasingly common phenomenon nowadays.

Joseph Stalin Bermudez, branch chair of SOAS Unison is battling to keep his job. Stalin a key activist in the justice for cleaners campaign (see more information, including videos of Joseph speaking here) has been suspended and has his disciplinary hearing is on Tuesday.

A mass meeting of SOAS Unison has called for a lobby of the hearing and is calling on trade unionists to offer support. We want to get as many trade union banners and delegations as possible to this event.

Don’t let SOAS management victimise key activists!

9.30am, Tuesday 24 February, SOAS main building, Thornhaugh St, Russel Square

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”