UVW members walk out indefinitely after ‘unlawful’ sackings
CLEANERS at the London offices of banking juggernaut JP Morgan Chase will start an indefinite strike today after several of their colleagues were sacked.
The Thames Cleaning and Support Services workers are fighting for the London living wage of £9.40 an hour and recognition for their union United Voices of the World (UVW).
The union says that after Thames took over the contract this year it unlawfully sacked half the workforce, some of whom had been working at 11 Wood Street for 15 years, in contravention of Tupe regulations.
The union successfully fought off a threatened High Court injunction last week but Thames did succeed in stopping the pickets chanting within 10 metres of the entrance of the building hosting financial behemoths including JP Morgan, Schroder and Law Debenture.
Walking out today was Ecuadorian cleaner Victor Ramirez, who said: “This is only the start. Together we will win.
“Nothing and no-one will change our belief in our right to earn a living wage and to be treated with respect.
“All we are doing is fighting for our rights and in response our employer has dragged us to the High Court.”
The company has claimed the problem lies with 100 Wood Street’s owner CBRE — a Fortune 500 commercial real estate company with over £11 billion in revenues — which does not want to meet the cleaners’ demands.
But it was Thames that sought the High Court injunction, at a cost of over £20,000.
UVW general secretary Petros Elia described the decision to go on all-out indefinite strike as “courageous.”
He said: “Thames have ignored [workers’] reasonable requests and refused to engage constructively in dialogue and negotiation.
“In fact they have gone much further than this, choosing to spend £20,000 in a futile attempt to silence our members.
“This shows just how far some companies will go to stop low-paid workers from speaking out about exploitation and injustice.
The union said the injunction on striking members protesting outside their working facilities set a “scary precedent” and a “gross and unjustified interference” with their human rights.
Mr Elia added: “Cleaners deserve dignity and respect, not to be treated like the dirt they clean.”