Archive for November, 2008

AMEY WORKERS:APPEAL DISMISSED:DEMO AT HQ

Posted in Uncategorized on Sunday, 23 November, 2008 by bristolnoborders

On Saturday we learnt that the appeals against dismissal by the five cleaners (Julio, Pedro, Ruben, Juan Camilo & Jorge) represented by their union Prospect, were rejected by Amey PLC.

It now seems likely this case will go to a Employment Tribunal. If so it could be a drawn-out process of several months. We hope to keep the pressure up throughout and this initial action is our response to the company’s decision.

This follows last Sunday’s packed public meeting with speakers from Amey, CAIC and other disputes (see http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/11/413214.html) and the picket last Friday of Amey in Bristol.

So the current timeline is:

Friday 28 November: London protest (as above)
Sunday 30 November: CAIC meeting where we will discuss future tactics and assign campaign work
Monday 8 December: Protest at Amey’s national HQ in Oxford, at 11am. Details to follow. Transport from Bristol(e-mail bristolnoborders@riseup.net) and possibly elsewhere.

If you can’t make it:
you can call or email Amey, NPL or the DIUS (govt dept): see updated model letters below.
YOU CAN INVITE A NPL-AMEY CLEANER TO YOUR MEETING and/or make a donation. Email latin_americanworkers@hotmail.com


Email for DIUS: Complaints.DIUS@dius.gsi.gov.uk

Dear Sir/Madam:

I am writing to you to manifest my concern at the recent sacking of five cleaners working at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) for Amey PLC, contracted to work there by the DIUS. As you may know, the reason given for this measure was that these workers had brought Amey into disrepute by distributing a leaflet in which they informed other NPL staff of abuses being committed by Amey. The have now had their appeals against fdismisal turned down.

Considering these workers had tried to move grievances against their management, and Amey had failed to respect its own grievance procedure, what this effectively means is that they are being scapegoated for engaging in legitimate trade union activity and defending their rights, and being used as a threat to other workers should they wish to follow the same path, in the same way that a number of cleaners were made an example of in an immigration raid organised by Amey at NPL.

The abuses the cleaners were communicating to other NPL staff concerned health and safety; failure to consult over contractual changes; failure to fulfil pledges to replace staff (there are now 10 of the original 36 left), and thereby attempt to get rid of the London Living Wage (approved by the Mayor) which the original cleaning workforce had previously earned and pay them instead the minimum wage. Indeed, of the skeleton staff remaining almost half are temporary workers earning the minimum wage.

As a governmental body, the DIUS has a social responsibility to ensure that the businesses it outsources work to adhere to minimum standards when it comes to ethics and basic human and employment rights. It is not enough, therefore, for NPL to simply wash its hands and say this matter only concerns Amey. If the DIUS fails to tell Amey to change its practices, it allows itself to become guilty by association.

I am also particularly disturbed that two of the sacked workers are refugees who themselves had escaped persecution for trade union and political activity in Colombia and been granted protection, only to be persecuted here by a rogue employer. Their sacking would seem to fly in the face of the government’s refugee integration policies and in general it’s aim of supporting vulnerable groups to secure stable employment. This issue has also caused great concern in the Latin American community and has been aired at public meetings and in the community media. There are therefore issues of community cohesion to consider.

I would therefore urge you to intervene as a matter of urgency and instruct Amey to reinstate the sacked workers and recognise all workers’ union rights, and to terminate the contract with them should they fail to do so. The longer this situation remains unsolved, the worse it will be for the DIUS’s image, which will be publicly associated with the worst kind of conduct as information regarding this case keeps on spreading far and wide.

Yours sincerely

Email to Martyn Sene, Managing Director of NPL martyn.sene@npl.co.uk

I wish to express my deep concern and indeed disgust at the sacking of 5 Latin American cleaners working at National Physical Laboratory for Amey Business Services. They have now had their appeals against dismisal refused, and it looks like this dispute will ‘run and run’.

The ‘crime’ of these long-serving staff was to alert NPL staff of the failure of their employer to address legitimate grievances. This followed the stress and uncertainty of a near 3 month suspension.

These abuses related to: health and safety; failure to consult over contractual changes; failure to fulfil pledges to replace staff (there are now 10 of the original 36 left), and thereby attempt to get rid of the London Living Wage (approved by the Mayor) which the original cleaning workforce had previously earned and pay them instead the minimum wage. Indeed of the skeleton staff remaining almost half are temporary staff earning the minimum wage.

I believe that both NPL and the DIUS have a responsibility as a socially responsible governmental body to ensure that the businesses it outsources work to adhere to minimum standards when it comes to ethics and basic human and employment rights. These are demands a number of statutory bodies, such as local councils, are nowadays placing on cleaning companies, due to overwhelming evidence of abuses in this industry, as evidenced by the recent report on Commission on Vulnerable Workers and the measures the government is now taking as a result of this report.

This situation has already caused considerable concern in the Latin American community in London as evidenced by a recent public meeting held in their support. Indeed the community had barely recovered from the traumatic and totally avoidable immigration raid at NPL premises last year, which itself damaged community relations. I am however pleased to learn that NPL staff of different grades have expressed support for the cleaners’s situation. I am also aware of growing interest in the national media and the scientific community, especally given the fact that two of the sacked cleaners are Colombian refugees, and the scientific community in Britain has a long and proud history of supporting scientists and academics who have been persecuted for trade union and poltical activity in their own countries.

I would therefore urge you to intervene as a matter of urgency in the face of Amey’s out-of-control site management and instruct them to reinstate the sacked workers. We believe that this should have been done much earlier in order to avoid the extreme situation at which we have arrived.


– Email for Amey Chief Executive: mel.ewell@amey.co.uk

Dear Mr Ewell:

I am writing to you to manifest my concern at the refusal of Amey PLC to reinstate five long-serving cleaners working at the National Physical Laboratory follwoing their recent appeals against dismissal.

As you may know, the reason given for this measure was that these workers had brought Amey into disrepute by distributing a leaflet in which they informed other NPL staff of abuses being committed by Amey management on site. Considering these workers had tried to move grievances against their management, and Amey had failed to respect its own grievance procedure, what this effectively means is that they are being scapegoated for engaging in legitimate trade union activity and defending their rights, and being used as a threat to other workers should they wish to follow the same path, in the same way that a number of cleaners have recently been made an example of in a migration raid organised by Amey in your premises.

The abuses the cleaners were communicating to other NPL staff concerned health and safety; failure to consult over contractual changes; failure to fulfil pledges to replace staff (there are now 10 of the original 36 left), and thereby attempt to get rid of the London Living Wage (approved by the Mayor) which the original cleaning workforce had previously earned and pay them instead the minimum wage. Indeed, of the skeleton staff remaining almost half are temporary workers earning the minimum wage.


This situation has already caused considerable concern in the Latin American community in London as evidenced by a recent public meeting held in their support. Indeed the community had barely recovered from the traumatic and totally avoidable immigration raid at NPL premises last year, which itself damaged community relations. I am however pleased to learn that NPL and Amey staff of different grades have personally expressed support for the cleaners’s situation. I am also aware of growing interest in the national media and the scientific community, especally given the fact that two of the sacked cleaners are Colombian refugees, and the scientific community in Britain has a long and proud history of supporting scientists and academics who have been persecuted for trade union and poltical activity in their own countries.


I therefore ask that Amey reinstate the sacked workers and recognise all workers’ union rights. The longer this situation remains unsolved, the worse it will be for Amey’s image, which will be publicly associated with the worst kind of conduct as information regarding this case keeps on spreading far and wide.

Yours sincerely

– Background on what’s been going on at NPL

Two months ago five Colombian cleaners working for Amey Plc at the National Physical Laboratory were suspended for daring to criticise Amey for putting an excessive workload onto ever fewer staff, for unilaterally changing terms and conditions and for disrespecting grievance procedures. The five have since been sacked. Theyare all members of the Prospect union and some of Unite-T&G as well.

When Amey took over the contract in December 2006 it found itself faced with a largely Latin American migrant workforce that was organised and conscious of its rights. They had recently unionised and were taking steps to gain recognition – a right afforded to all other staff at the NPL.

In order to enforce a serious increase in workload and downgrade in conditions, Amey tricked the cleaners into attending a fake training session, only for the doors to be bolted and 7 of the workers to be taken away by the police. Of these, three were deported – one to Colombia and two to Brazil. All lost their jobs.

These workers were never replaced, and there are now 10 cleaners doing the work previously done by 36! The sacking of the five workers is a direct result of the remaining workers’ attempts to protest against this trend. Amey say that they were fired for bringing the company into disrepute – that is, handing out a leaflet to other NPL staff stating what was happening. Considering these workers had tried to move grievances which were never listened to, what Amey is actually saying is: these workers were sacked for taking the only course of action available to them, or to anyone whose rights are not recognised by their employers.

***

But this small story is a perfect lesson in how migration controls work, and what role they play in the economy. It’s clear that, in order to take the contract at NPL, Amey had to make a bid stating that it could do the same work as the previous company for less money. This ‘race to the bottom’ is the way the market works.

But how can a company do the same work for less? By keeping wages down, enforcing a bigger workload on less workers, using agency workers (mostly hired as ‘self-employed’ ‘one-person companies’) that have no rights and aren’t given the appropriate training. How can they get away with this? By counting on a workforce that is not aware of its labour rights, who has less options in the work market, or is too precarious or afraid to challenge their conditions.

In other words, the migrant worker who has little or no support network in this country, and whose visa status can often be irregular, is the ideal worker for companies like Amey: the guarantee that they can keep on racing to the bottom. It is by exploiting their precariousness that Amey can make its £75 million net annual profit.

And what if they find organised workers who won’t accept such exploitation? That’s when immigration controls come in handy: to punish or threaten with deportation and sacking; to replace them with others who won’t ‘cause any problems’. Why won’t they cause any problems? Often because they are irregular themselves – but their visa status is not a problem, unless they demand their rights.

Amey knows this game very well. It is a majority shareholder in Tubelines, which cleans parts of the Underground. Tube cleaners who dared to strike for a living wage this summer were faced with a corporate response consisting of… paper checks, immigration raids and deportations to safe, prosperous countries like Sierra Leone and the Congo. Once these retaliations take place, the cleaning companies can just hire a whole new batch of migrant workers – or, like at the NPL, take advantage of this situation and just get a small amount of people to do what used to be done by many more.

But the game is the same across the building management, cleaning and security industries. Companies in this sector – often multinationals themselves – are often in the same situation as Amey: cleaning services at NPL, shareholder in the site management of the London Underground… and making profits off the back of migrant workers everywhere! Serco, the company that does the site management at NPL, can also be found at migrant detention centres like Harmondsworth and Colnbrook in London, where they provide site management and security services. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine that, while profiting from the misery of detainees and deportees, they also hire irregular migrants elsewhere!

This is ultimately more than just a matter of rights and fair treatment for migrant workers – it’s about the ‘race to the bottom’ that determines deregulation, worse pay and standards for all workers in the UK. There is only one solution to this problem: to regularise all migrant workers whose work produces millions for companies like Amey and Serco; to stop the use of raids and fear that keeps pushing down the conditions of migrant workers, but ultimately of all of us.

Latin American Workers’ Association
c/o T&G, 218 Green Lanes, London N4 2BR
tel: 020 8826 2063

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ASYLUM SEEKER VOUCHER EXCHANGE

Posted in Uncategorized on Sunday, 23 November, 2008 by bristolnoborders

“A member of BRR explained to me that people who arrive in this country and apply for asylum are split (by the authorities) into two categories. Those whose cases are pending receive a small amount of money, on which they have to try and live; they’re the (relatively) lucky ones. The other group are those whose cases are rejected, but who remain in this country but can’t be deported as either the case is under appeal, or the country isn’t safe to return to. This group of people are given no money; instead each week they receive £35 worth of supermarket vouchers. They must live entirely from Tesco or Asda or Sainsbury.”

The vouchers can only be exchanged for food…so no clothes fags or booze, and potentially no halal meat – as many supermarkets don’t stock it.

This exchange needs to expand – there are a lot of asylum seekers who’d love to swap their vouchers for some real money. If you’d like to help contact Bristol Refugee Rights:

dropin@hotmail.co.uk or 0117 9080844

Alternatively drop in to their centre, on Newton Road near Easton Leisure Centre. They’re there on Wednesday mornings or all-day Thursday. The nice lady from BRR said they really need people to send them cheques. They can then send back vouchers, and start expanding the exchange operation.

NOVEMBER 20TH BMI PHONE BLOCKADE

Posted in Uncategorized on Tuesday, 18 November, 2008 by bristolnoborders

November 20th 2008: Shut down BMI day. http://noborderswales.wordpress.com/

Everyday, an average of 180 migrants are deported from the UK. That’s one
person every eight minutes.

They haven’t done anything wrong.

They are criminalised for doing what humans have done for thousands of
years: moving in search of a better life. Moving to escape war,
persecution, torture, physical abuse, poverty…

Governments across the world do not want us to see those being deported as
people. They want to shroud them under statistics and treat them as pieces
of meat.

Airline companies are a key link in the deportation industry. Without them
it would be impossible for the state to implement this aspect of the
migration regime and there can be no migration controls without
deportations.

People being deported are often handcuffed on the flight and there have
been numerous reports of physical assaults on people being deported by the
security personnel who escort them.

On 20th September 2008, No Borders South Wales activist
Babi Badalov was deported on a BMI flight to Azerbaijan. In an email
following the deportation, BMI CEO Nigel Turner said that:

“I do not have the time or resources to investigate each case myself nor
do BMI”

But BMI were given plenty of information and time to ‘investigate’.
Despite hundreds of telephone calls, emails and faxes to BMI raising
objections to the removal, they chose to ignore this and ensured that the
deportation took place.

BMI employees told those ringing on the day that they could not refuse to
carry people being removed and it was out of their control. However, other
airlines have refused to carry out deportations in the past. XL Airways
announced in 2007 that they would no longer carry refused asylum-seekers
who were being forcibly removed from the UK.

BMI is the UK’s second largest full service airline. By taking part in
deportations, they do the governments dirty work for them and in the
process, make money from human misery. In 2007 BMI reported profits of
£15.5 million. How much of this was soaked in the blood of migrants who
they deported against their will?

Following the successful day of action against BMI on October the 20th, No
Borders South Wales are calling for another day of action to shut down BMI
on the 20th of November.

We call on BMI to no longer take part in the forced deportation of migrants.

We are focusing this campaign around the 20th day of each month, after the
date that BMI took Babi away from those who loved him and those he loved.

Please contact BMI and register your disapproval at their role in
deporting people to places they do not wish to go back to, for whatever
the reason this may be. Urge BMI to follow the other airlines who have
taken an ethical stance and who refuse to carry out any more deportations.

On 20th November let’s once again hit BMI with everything we’ve got! Ring,
fax and e-mail the company as much as possible on this day and every month
thereafter until BMI no longer take part this cruel practice.

BMI flights operate from the following UK Airports:

Aberdeen, Belfast (City), Birmingham, Bristol, Durham Tees Valley, East
Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Jersey, Leeds Bradford, London City, London
Gatwick, London Heathrow, Manchester, Newcastle International, Norwich.

BMI Contact Details

Head office
Donington Hall, Castle Donington, Derby. DE74 2SB

E-mail Nigel Turner, BMI Chief Executive Officer at:
nigel.turner@flybmi.com

Switchboard
Telephone: 01334 854 000
Open Mon-Fri 8am-6pm

Customer Relations
Telephone: 01332 854 321
Fax: 01332 854 875
Open: Mon-Fri 9:30am-4:30pm

Reservations and general enquiries
Telephone: 01332 854854 & 01332 648181
Fax: 01709 314993
Opening hours: 7am-9pm

Bmi baby reservations
Telephone 01332 648181
Opening hours: 8am-8pm

STOP DEPORTATIONS!

PHONE BLOCKADE, AMEY DEMO & TESCO PICKET 20TH, 21st & 22nd Nov

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Monday, 17 November, 2008 by bristolnoborders

November 20th 2008: Shut down BMI Airlines day. Remember Babi! http://noborderswales.wordpress.com/

Everyday, an average of 180 migrants are deported from the UK. That’s one person every eight minutes.

They haven’t done anything wrong.

Solidarity Without Borders Fri 21st Nov & Mon 8th Dec

Last Month, five Latin American cleaners were unfairly dismissed by the company responsible for the cleaning at the National Physical Laboratory. Their sacking was a clear retaliation to their attempts at organising, receiving union recognition, and protesting the measures by which Amey has, since taking over the contract in 2006, been lowering their standards. Among the acts of intimidation carried out by Amey, there was a migration raid at NPL that resulted in seven dismissals and three deportations.

Noisy Picket:Friday, 21st November at: 1 Redcliffe Street,Bristol between 12.00pm and 2.00pm Please bring noisy things. This follows several demos in London, and one last month in Bristol.
There will also be a public meeting in Oxford on Thu Dec 4 and and action at Amey national HQ, also in Oxford, on Mon Dec 8. Transport will probably be available from Bristol for the demo . e-mail bristolnoborders@riseup.net if your interested in going and want further details.

october

october

There will be a picket in Bristol outside Amey’s offices

Since the last demo in Bristol, the workers have had their appeal against dismissal, and are expecting the result of the tribunal in the next couple of days…

It seems that while employees work for less than minimum/living wages, with few rights then it’s ok. But, as soon as they begin to organise to collectively improve their conditions, immigration legislation is rolled out to intimidate them, as shown in both the case of the largely Latino workforce dismissed by Amey and the cleaners on the London underground.

Bristol No Borders call for solidarity with all workers whether they have papers or not.
We are aware that this is a tricky time to defend migrant worker’s rights, as many fear losing their own jobs and the media stir up talk of putting limits on immigration to protect ‘British’ jobs. But we think this is the right time to be making the arguments that we will not be divided by bosses and governments. This is ultimately more than just a matter of rights and fair treatment for migrant workers – it’s about the “race to the bottom” that determines deregulation, worse pay and standards for all workers in the UK. Migration controls are a weapon against the whole work force. They divide us and are a tool of discipline the workforce. If there are workers with less right or no rights, this undermines the position of workers as a whole. Migration legislation is unlikely to to stop so called “illegal workers” from seeking employment in the rich west. It will however, employers probably hope that it will make them less likely to organise at work, this allowing employers to further reduce their working conditions.

The answer must be to oppose immigration controls. EQUAL RIGHTS ARE IN THE INTERESTS OF ALL WORKERS.

Saturday 22nd Nov

2-3 pm outside Tesco Metro in Broadmead to protest against vouchers for asylum seekers, and encourage exchange of vouchers.

75% of those who seek safety in the UK are not granted it. However, many
can not return home because of war, etc. They can stay here but they are
not allowed to work but instead receive £35 vounchers a week. They must
live entirely from Tesco, Asda or Sainsburys, therefore NO buses, halal
food, transport, even to top up mobile phones.

More info Bristol Refugee Rights, dropin@hotmail.co.uk

Supported by Bristol Defend Asylum Seekers

URGENT:ANTI DEPORTATION ACTION MON 3RD NOV

Posted in Uncategorized on Saturday, 1 November, 2008 by bristolnoborders
Bolanle and her children urgently need your help
Bolanle Ojulari is a pregnant mother with children aged 2 and 4. She is
currently in hospital in Swansea after being admitted with bleeding,
stomach pains and being unable to keep food down.
Bolanle contaced No Borders South Wales to ask for help to stop her being
forcibly removed on Monday 3rd November to Nigeria on British Airways
flight 0075, Heathrow to Lagos at 13:40pm.
She wishes to fight this deportation and needs our support urgently.
Bolanle came to the UK in 2005 after fleeing Nigeria. She is from the
state of Zamfara which was the first state in Nigeria to introduce strict
Sharia (Islamic) laws in 2000. Bolanle’s father had arranged for her to be
married. However, she was forced to escape from Nigeria after she became
pregnant by a different man and was threatened with punishment as she was
not married.
Under Zamfara Sharia Law section 126, a woman who has sex outside of
marriage will be punished by 100 lashes and one year of imprisonment. If a
woman commits adultery she will be sentenced to being stoned to death.
None of the family have had anti-malaria medication, which government
guidelines state should be given to those travelling to this region,
particularly young children and pregnant women.
Bolanle currently has NO legal representation. Please contact us if you
can help find her a solicitor.
Action is needed to stop this deportation:
1) Write to/Fax British Airways using the model letter asking that they do
not take part in this removal:
http://noborderswales.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/bolanle-ba-letter.doc
Fax: 020 8759 4314 (0044 20 8759 4314 if you are faxing from outside UK).
Email: willie.walsh@ba.com
2) Telephone British Airways to raise your objection to their part in
facilitating this forced removal:
-Reservations and general enquiries: 0844 493 0 787,  06:00-20:00 daily
-Customer Relations 0844 493 0 787, Fax: +44 (0)20 8759 4314:
Monday-Friday 08:00-18:30
-Raise your concern with their Passenger Medical Clearance Unit that
Bolanle is not fit to fly due to health complications which meant she was
recently hospitalised and the family have not had essential anti-malaria
medication:
Tel: +44 (0)20 8738 5444, Fax:+44 (0)20 8738 9644
Email: PMCU.PMCU@BA.COM
3) Write to/ Fax the Home Secretary using this model letter:
http://noborderswales.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/bolanle-home-office-letter.doc
Fax: 020 8760 3132 (00 44 20 8760 3132 if you are faxing from outside UK)
Tel: 020 7035 4848
e-mail: public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk
STOP DEPORTATIONS