Archive for Amey

Amey Workers: A Legal Defeat, A Moral Victory

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on Friday, 28 August, 2009 by bristolnoborders

amey-0022You may remember the demos we held in Bristol and Oxford last year. Well, perhaps inevitably, they lost there legal battle, but as the article below says, having rejected the easy way out and a pay off of £3000 the workers remain defiant in the face of defeat. The Julio and Pedro are an inspiration, against a background of Trade Unionist defeatism and timidity.

The Amey case: Burn your bridges, save your dignity

Two of the workers sacked by Amey in September 2008, who had fought for reinstatement and compensation, recently lost their legal battle, which had lasted almost a year.

A judge made clear on August 10th that the verdict was final and cannot be appealed: the plaintiffs had defamed the company by handing out leaflets where the names of Amey and its manager Laura Jordan were in bold capital letters, something deemed aggressive and ‘inexcusable’ in the English language.

Julio Mayor and Pedro Rengifo thus lost the case, their jobs and the money they had been offered (an attempt to buy their silence: they refused with – and for the sake of – their dignity).

However, they did not feel defeated… Failures can involve conquest too. It starkly displayed the persecution of immigrants organising for their rights and showed that solidarity exists. They learned from it, and kept fighting by themselves. They conquered fear and busted myths.

Julio Mayor explains this well, “During negotiations we did what we felt necessary: setting a precedent against the bosses’ abuses. We were facing Amey, a multinational, but their arguments were very weak. We were very keen to show that the manager and Amey had broken the law. We feel satisfied by what we did.”


It was an exhausting, instructive, long, drawn-out fight with hills and bends. “The Amey case” highlighted a common but deliberately ignored situation: the exploitation of “illegal” immigrants and persecution of those who organise (in unions or otherwise) against it; but above all, the undeniable alliance between employers, immigration police and state bodies to enforce immigration policy. Moreover, it means exploitative companies need not answer for their staff, exploiting them before casting them aside when they become an irritant. To avoid paying wages and improving work conditions, with the words “no papers”, they can have workers locked up. The result: thousands of immigrants mercilessly exploited, arrested then deported in a process denying them no rights and ignoring their protests. Hundreds of companies act with impunity, complicit in the employment of “illegals”: employing them in full awareness of their status, or even giving them the means and information to work… “legally”… An unfair “justice” where foreigners always lose.

There have been other cases like Amey – before, then and since. Bosses hire immigrants, knowing them to be illegal; exploit them; the immigrants protest; Immigration “appear”; wages go unpaid; deportations keep stacking up; the exploiters do it all over again and nothing is done about it… They are not condemned, not penalized.

That is perhaps why some people, determined to stop this cycle, immediately rallied round Julio and his sacked colleagues. CAIC (Campaign Against Immigration Controls) heard of the case and supported it with numerous demonstrations around England, which were also backed by No Borders, the Latin American Workers Association, universities, media, human rights organisations, groups and individuals across the country.

Time was not on the five cleaners’ side, so they had strategy meetings mainly in working hours and Julio and his colleagues worked nights, Monday to Friday.


Moreover, after ACAS called for conciliation, they refused Amey’s offer of £3000 each. Then, Julio recalls “the Prospect union, clearly supporting Amey, argued that the company had spent a lot of money on the disciplinary proceedings and investigations, so we should be more reasonable. But we told them that the fault lay with Amey, not us. Given our stance, Prospect decided to withdraw their legal support.”

For their part, Unite [which had also supported them] began to cave after the Employment Tribunal talks. “At that time three of us were Unite members. The lawyers they assigned to us said that we had no chance of success, we had slandered the company and so were rightly sacked.”

In the course of the dispute many organisations expressed their interest in helping out when the unions would not represent them. Unfortunately, nothing happened. Julio’s perception was that “no-one was interested in our case any longer, since there were only two of us left, not five like there were to begin with.”

Jorge Loaiza and Rubén Jiménez had abandoned the struggle because they had no time for meetings and tribunals. But Rengifo and Julio decided that they would keep going. Their memories stopped them from taking a backwards step, no matter whether they were with or without the unions, with others or alone. They remembered the events of May 2007 when three cleaners were deported and another four sacked.


Days beforehand, the 36 Latin Americans employed by Amey to clean the National Physical Laboratories had determined their fate. Tired of accepting Amey’s abuses – and because they were organised – they began to protest when, without reason, the company decided to cut wages and staff numbers; doubled the workload; permanently re-assigned them, unjustifiably; and disregarded health and safety standards.

At first they believed Amey would re-consider its behaviour, only to be betrayed: Amey called them to a meeting… at which more than 60 immigration police arrived. A raid, in which several were jailed.

Those who survived this ambush re-doubled their protests, verbally and in writing, as individuals and publicly. This time they protested the injustices of working for Amey, and indeed because their workload was doubled when no-one replaced the deported workers. But they also protested the way in which Amey silenced their colleagues. They gave out leaflets explaining the situation, and shouted people’s names and their crimes.

The consequences of their tenacity and courage were however unfavourable and gave little room for hope: they were sacked, because, in the employers’ eyes, “their actions damaged the company’s image”.

Refusing to be intimidated, they demanded Amey appear before an Employment Tribunal, on grounds of unfair dismissal, racial discrimination and shortcomings in health and safety.

They sought reinstatement in their posts and financial compensation for the hardship endured when they were forced to go without any wages.

Then, on 10th February 2009, Amey met with them and their Unite and Prospect representatives. ACAS were also present. Amey wanted to make a deal and offered a third of the pay-off demanded, but no reinstatement. They told them that they needed an answer by the 17th: this was a “no”. The offer was “inappropriate and unfair, given the losses and hardship caused”.

Prospect had advised them to accept Amey’s offer and withdraw the Tribunal case. They warned that if they did not, the “union would withdraw its legal backing”.

And so it was. The Unite withdrew its support, as Julio Mayor explained, “It is a policy of the unions that when one takes away its support, the others do the same out of ‘solidarity’. This makes no sense: when workers join a union, it is because they expect 100% of the benefits of being in the union. Membership also allows you to get backing from certain organisations and campaigns not dependent on the unions, and this helps significantly in developing a higher level of struggle.”

The cutting-loose did not surprise them. Even at that time, in declarations to the press, Julio showed that their withdrawal of support did not seem strange to him: “In the past I have seen the same attitude from unions: to represent or give legal support to a worker before a Tribunal, they must have more than a 60% hope of success. If that is not the case, they will not fight, since the unions will lose face and it will cost them a lot. The unions in this country will only give something up in order to gain something.”

Julio and his comrades knew they had to keep going by themselves, seeking representation independent of the unions, warning: “With them or without them we will continue onwards. We will continue fighting, whatever happens, even if we forfeit Amey’s offer”.

“What other option do we have if they will not meet our request for help? The only options we were left with were to withdraw the Tribunal case or represent ourselves. We chose the latter.”

Yes, they lost, but the experience was positive in teaching them that workers can appear before a Tribunal “without begging for unions’ representation. The unions acted as if they were offering a service to the workers, as if they were doing us a favour, rather than a service which we had previously paid for”.

For this reason, there was success amid the defeat, because although they know that larger numbers have greater chance of victory, now they are not afraid to fight any battle – with support or not – and are determined “to continue helping workers win their rights” and offer their solidarity whenever it may be necessary.

Mónica del Pilar Uribe Marin is an international freelance journalist specialising in Human Rights, Politics and Environment:

No Borders Newsletter Spring 09

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on Monday, 27 April, 2009 by bristolnoborders


To Download,

Click, then click again


Slightly Improved version:


Amey Worker To Speak in Bristol

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on Sunday, 5 April, 2009 by bristolnoborders

Julio, one of the Amey workers will be speaking at the Latin American Forum in Bristol, about their struggle and others.latamforum20091

Amey Demo Reports 8th Dec

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on Tuesday, 9 December, 2008 by bristolnoborders

amey demo(s) reports


oxford and newcastle

In September 2008 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.

The two demos today make it 4 in 10 days. This follows two in bristol in october and november.


About 20 people from oxford, bristol and south wales no borders made a horrible noise with drums, olive oil tins, a symbol and two megaphones. the megaphones were particularly effective – especially the siren function, and we got some proper nasty feedback when we placed one next to the other.

Dialogue was not forthcoming from within the glass and steel building , but we did hear from one of the sacked workers first hand: he thanked us for supporting him and his fellow workers, but it was there fighting spirit which inspired us all to be there


demo in support of sacked AMEY workers in newcastle

08.12.2008 21:57
Activists from no borders north east did a demo in solidarity with the sacked AMEY workers outside the AMEY offices in newcastle. Over 100 leaflets were given out to passers by and staff entering the building for work.

no borders north east
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Amey offices entered as campaign for sacked colombian cleaners grows

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on Monday, 1 December, 2008 by bristolnoborders

More than twenty protestors entered the offices of Amey Plc in High Holborn on Friday in protest at the sacking of five Colombian cleaners and the rejection of their appeal. The protesters entered the office building to give a petition letter to an Amey representative but were blocked by security in the lobby and were told Amey did not want to see them. After the occupation Julio, one of the sacked cleaners, stayed behind to give the letter but Amey still refused to see him.

The action was held after Amey rejected the appeal of the five cleaners. This is the latest in a series of measures taken against the cleaners since Amey, which is owned by Spanish multinational Ferrovia, took over the cleaning contract in May 2007 and found itself faced with a largely Latin American migrant workforce that had recently unionised and was taking steps to gain recognition – something afforded to all other NPL staff. The first came last year, when the company invited workers to a ‘training session’, only to bolt the doors behind them and leave them in the care of the Home Office, which promptly deported three of them, one to Colombia and two to Brazil, for not having official documents.

Since then the number of cleaners has been reduced from thirty-six to fifteen as Amey looks to cut costs as much as possible. The dismissal of the five was a direct result of the remaining workers’ attempts to protest against this trend after they wrote a leaflet to tell other staff at the NPL what was going on in the cleaning department. They were quickly sacked for bringing the company into disrepute.

Amey, which posted a net annual profit of a tidy £75 million, is well versed in these tactics. It is a majority shareholder in Tubelines, which cleans parts of the Underground. Tube cleaners who went on strike for a living wage this summer were faced with a corporate response consisting of paper checks, immigration raids and deportations to Sierra Leone and the Congo.

The protest was called by the Latin American Workers Association, the Campaign Against Immigration Controls and the Schroeders Bank Cleaners, with activists from groups including the Colombia Solidarity Campaign, Hands Off Venezuela, London Coalition Against Poverty, and the Solidarity Federation.

There are further actions in the next week including a protest at Amey’s national HQ in Oxford, at 11am on Monday December 8th. Details to follow. Transport from Bristol (e-mail: and possibly elsewhere.

Campaign Against Immigration Controls
– e-mail:
– Homepage:


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

November 20th 2008: Shut down BMI Airlines day. Remember Babi!

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 if your interested in going and want further details.



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,

Supported by Bristol Defend Asylum Seekers