SOLIDARITY PROTEST AT ALBERTO DURANGO’S APPEAL AGAINST DISMISSAL
Mr Durango, who is a prominent campaigner for migrant workers’ union rights, was hauled away by police and immigration agents after he turned up for a meeting with his bosses at the London offices of the Lancaster Cleaning Company.
The Unite union member, who helped organise other cleaners on Lancaster’s contract at Schroder’s Bank in the City earlier this year, was arrested on suspicion of using false documents – despite having worked for the company for more than 10 years.
Immigration officials and police then raided his home, confiscating union leaflets and newspapers, before releasing Mr Durango with a caution.
Mr Durango insisted that the company had called in the police “in a clear case of victimisation.
“I had first come to Britain in 1995 and have worked for Lancaster as a cleaner almost since then,” he related.
Mr Durango alleged: “The company had no problems with this for many years, but as I became more involved in the union and helped to organise the cleaners at Schroder’s Bank – where we even won a pay rise – Lancaster tried to move me to other contracts.”
After helping to organise demonstrations of migrant workers sacked by another cleaning privateer, Mitie, Mr Durango said that he was suspended under a clause in his employment contract called “third-party pressure.”
He claimed that “this allows management to stop you working for any reason and they don’t even have to give you a reason.”
Lancaster, which was taken over by the huge multinational services privateer Rentokil Initial in 2007, has many cleaning contracts at prestigious buildings in London, including the landmark Tower 42 and Swiss Re buildings.
A spokesman for Rentokil Initial said last night that the company was looking into what had happened, but Mr Durango insisted that the police officers who arrested him had already told him that he wouldn’t have a job to go back to.
“I was told by the police that I’ve lost my job, but I’ve heard nothing from the company,” he said.
Friday 3 July
Meet 10.30am outside Canary Wharf tube exit for picket at 11am at 31 Beaufort Court, Admirals Way, London E14 9XL.
Supported by: Latin American Workers Association, Coordinadora Latinoamericana, National Shop Stewards Network, Clerkenwell & St Pancras Unite branch, John McDonnell MP and more
Note: the weekly Willis/Mitie cleaners picket has been suspended in order to support Alberto.