The five had been unfairly dismissed under the cover of redundancy because they were unable to switch to full time hours at night as part of changes in conditions which the company was demanding. However given that these were Unite union activists, including the building’s shop steward, it is believed that these ‘redundancies’ were in fact a cover for breaking up union organisation.
Mitie cleaners at the building include Bolivian, Ecuadorian and Portuguese workers. They were supported by other union cleaners at nearby Schroders investment bank and elsewhere at the ‘unofficial’ demonstration. They called the demonstration after postponing a previous one at the union officials’ request, in order to allow for negotiations to take place. However the demo was called again after negotiations broke down.
At the protest a manager claimed that the cleaners “ought to have gone through the proper channels and spoken with human resources.” Meanwhile one office worker, expressing his sympathy, told us that “Willis don’t allow us unions either”.
In a lively protest we chanted “Reinstate the cleaners” and “Queremos justicia ahora!”. Five City of London police briefly came to the protest, without incident. When they asked one cleaner who was in charge of the demo, he replied “everyone!”. Unfortunately, “everyone” did not seem to include the Unite union, who refused to sanction the protest with the argument that the terms of the agreement between the union and the company did not allow this.
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