Many of you will know Alberto, a Colombian activist who worked as a cleaner at Schroders in the City of London who has recently been involved in the Mitie/Willis dispute and has spoken at various union branches and forums in recent months including the NSSN.
This morning after attending a construction workers’ demo at the Olympic site he was called to a meeting at his employer, the cleaning contractor Lancaster, at 9.15am. Upon arrival he was met by four policemen, inxcluding immigration police, and arrested on suspicion of working under false papers.
The police took Alberto in handcuffs to his house, questioning him on why he had socialist papers in his bags. He also had a DVD about the Tamil struggle about his person (having been given it for free on a demo) and the police said that they would have to consider this “terrorist” material in his case. All these materials were confiscated and his house searched before he was taken to the Peckham police station.
In reality, Alberto had come to the UK in 1998 on a student visa, and when it expired in 2002 his employer Lancaster told him to assume a false name. Only now after he has become a leading labour activist has this same employer chosen to raise the issue of his immigration status, involving the police.
Fortunately Alberto escaped with a caution and was released by 8pm. But this was a clear case of victimisation and Alberto has now lost all the benefits accrued during 10 years’ employment, such as the right to redundancy pay, as well as his job itself (he was until recently on suspension with pay).
Alberto is adamant that “the fight is only just beginning”.
WILLIS BUILDING CLEANERS: 3 MONTHS AND STILL FIGHTING
3 women – 1 man
2 Latin Americans – 2 Africans
1 shop steward – 3 union members
All four have now been holding demonstrations with supporters for 3 months now! Four cleaners against two huge companies: Willis (global insurance brokers) and Mitie Cleaning & Support Services.
The next one tomorrow will start at Wilis and will head off around 13.30 to HBO, 33 Old Broad Stret EC2 where all four had been working for Mitie as well.:
Friday 08 May
Willis Building, 51 Lime Street, London EC3M 7DQ
(tube: Liverpool Street / Bank; bus 25)
Information: Edwin 07931 464 890 or Alberto 07803 634 319