Willis cleaners protest grows

Tagged as: workers_struggles
Neighbourhoods: city london of

Sacked cleaners and their supporters held their third and largest protest on Thursday, outside insurance brokers Willis in the heart of the City of London. Willis's cleaning contractors Mitie had brought in redundancies and overnight working over Christmas, just when the cleaners had achieved the 'living wage'. A new video tells the story - see link below....

Snv32915-medium
willis1

Snv32917-medium
willis2

Snv32920-medium
willis3

The protests have been self-organised, as the slogan 'Cleaners for Justice' indicated. Armed with homemade placards, leaflets, and whistles, a deafening noise was created.we made a right noise.

Cleaners from nearby Schroders investment bank were again among those who came to show their solidarity. Workers from countries as diverse as Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Poland, the UK and Sao Tome (Africa) joined together to show their anger, chanting in English and Spanish.

The company have since agreed to direct talks on Monday, but noone will be dropping their guard...

Background:

The cleaners worked for Mitie Cleaning and Support Services, who are under contract to global insurance brokers Willis Group Holdings. This month Willis recently reported a net income for 2008 of $303 million. They are the only global insurance broker with a UK headquarters and clients range from governments to multinationals.

This dispute started over Christmas when Mitie, without consulting the workers as it ought to have done, established new contracts with the Willis Group, forcing workers to change from part-time evening to full-time overnight working. A situation which the cleaners could not accept.

This attack was successfully confronted at the time by the workers, at the same time as they were involved in a successful campaign for the Living Wage.

Then over Christmas five Unite union members have since been made forcibly redundant, including the shop steward Edwin Pazmino. It wass clear that the company was using restructuring to attack the workers' organization.

The workers received letters of compulsory redundancy along with their P45 in December, even before the outcome of an appeal hearing which later ruled in favour of Mitie.

"That was our Christmas present," Mr Pazimino said.

He added: "Some of the workers were crying and shocked to learn that they had lost their jobs as they all have family and dependents."

Following an appea, negotiations between the union and Mitie broke down at the end of January. At that point the affected workers wrote directly to both Willis Group Holdings and cleaning contractors Mitie on February 9 to say:

"We are 5 cleaners dismissed from your building because we were trying to get better conditions to all the workers. MITIE Cleaning and Support Services Ltd. After we asked for increase of wages they changed the working shifts from 7 to 11 pm to work overnight 10 to 6 am, that change was a clear move to attack and stop us claiming our rights. After the change an interchange of emails with the company and before any appeal the company illegally send us the P45 dismissing us on grounds of redundancy.

Following our letter dated 26th January we would like to let you know that we decided to suspend demonstrations on 30th January at the request of MITIE to negotiate. But unfortunately we could not get our jobs back as requested, and even we did not get any alternative or answer, so we have decided to start a series of demonstrations outside Willis's building starting from Thursday 12th February 2009 until we get our jobs back.

We are appealing to your common sense in order to get our jobs back; we have families to support and children to feed. We are completely sure about the unfairness of the company decision..."

These sackings are taking place in various workplaces, so we must be on the alert and fight back in unity to guarantee our rights at work.

See the interview with Edwin and other protestors at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CaYVPQrIYs

Contact Willis cleaners at Williscleaners4justice@live.co.uk
Messages of support welcome.

For general info write to:  latin_americanworkers@hotmail.com

Links:

Link_go Willis Cleaners for Justice video (3m)

A great three minute video where cleaners from Willis and other sites say why they have organised protests themsleves