Willis/Mitie cleaners sign now


Open Letter to Jack Dromey, UNITE Deputy General Secretary

We, the undersigned, urge you to reverse your decision to withdraw UNITE's support from the Mitie workers at Willis.

As you know four Latin American and African cleaners, all UNITE members, were sacked in December 2008 by their employer Mitie Cleaning & Support Services Ltd. The cleaners employed by Mitie at the Willis insurance building in the City of London joined the union, inspired in part by the 'Justice for Cleaners' campaign, and drawing on their own experience of organising. Workers and union fought together for an agreement from Mitie to pay the London Living Wage.

Then the company unilaterally extended the shift from 4 hours (from 7pm to 11pm) to 8 hours working through the night, which many of the cleaners could not do due to their family commitments. UNITE negotiated a transfer of the workers to other sites, notably HBOS, enabling them to continue working a 4 hour shift, but this was only temporary.

Your letter of 30 April 2009 to the sacked workers is incorrect concerning significant details of the crucial the final negotiation with Mitie: the workers did NOT agree to change their work shift start from 7pm to 6.30pm, they DID offer a start time of 6.45pm; neither did the workers reject the company's offer outside of the official negotiation process through the union.

The workers were NOT responsible for the breakdown in talks. They understood that they were in a negotiation, and were surprised and shocked to receive dismissal notices, apparently because of a 15 minute difference. The workers are firmly convinced that Mitie was being inflexible as a pretext for their dismissal. They have been protesting for reinstatement weekly outside Willis since the end of January.

We believe that the critical issue here is to trust in the workers' version of events rather than the employer's.

We also believe that for the 'Justice for Cleaners' campaign to go forward the union must make every effort to regain the full trust of the sacked Mitie workers. The much publicised arrest of Alberto Durango a cleaners branch committee member, at a time when he was giving valuable support to the Willis workers, makes this all the more important.

We urge UNITE to reconsider, to re-establish full representation for the unfairly dismissed Mitie workers and campaign for their reinstatement.

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Etta TranBy:
School and EducationIn:
Petition target:
Unite the Union

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