Archive for schroders

Picket Report – Alberto Durango

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on Saturday, 4 July, 2009 by bristolnoborders

Alberto is a cleaners branch activist in Unite sacked from Schroders Bank by Lancaster cleaning company after a successful campaign against redundancies and for the living wage. He was entrapped by the company and UK Borders Agency – an increasingly common tactic against migrant worker trade unionists. He is also the union rep for the sacked Mitie workers.

I went up yesterday to offer Albert Durango Bristol No Borders’ solidarity and support. I almost missed meeting people outside Canary Wharf  Tube as there seemed to be a bomb scare/fire practice which has all the staff from all the surrounding office building also assembiling outside the tube station. Lehman Bros, Schroders they were all there – we could have done a multiple office occupation – if we had a thousand people for the picket, rather than 30.

previous demo

previous demo

The picket was very noisy, and of course the chants were in both Spainish and English.  I found myself holding a UNITE banner(!) which seemed strange, but it seems UNITE had made it an official picket. Without going into all the detail UNITE’s support of many of the militant cleaners campaigns has been at best ambiguous See Alberto’s article for more details on this – link below).  It’s not clear when he will here the result of his tribunal – the company  now have to launch an “investigation” into his sacking – like they don’t know! Alberto was very bullish –  both about his chances of reinstatement – and building a strong, grassroots union movement. He’s quite an inspiring figure.

There were cleaners at the pickets from many of the city institutions, as well as people from CAIC, Latin American Workers Association and UNISON, Workers Climate Action and Bristol No Borders (me).

Alberto’s article:

Support Alberto – Victimised for being Foreign and Unionised

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on Thursday, 2 July, 2009 by bristolnoborders


Mr Durango, who is a prominent campaigner for migrant workers’ union rights, was hauled away by police and immigration agents after he turned up for a meeting with his bosses at the London offices of the Lancaster Cleaning Company.

The Unite union member, who helped organise other cleaners on Lancaster’s contract at Schroder’s Bank in the City earlier this year, was arrested on suspicion of using false documents – despite having worked for the company for more than 10 years.

Immigration officials and police then raided his home, confiscating union leaflets and newspapers, before releasing Mr Durango with a caution.

Mr Durango insisted that the company had called in the police “in a clear case of victimisation.

“I had first come to Britain in 1995 and have worked for Lancaster as a cleaner almost since then,” he related.

Mr Durango alleged: “The company had no problems with this for many years, but as I became more involved in the union and helped to organise the cleaners at Schroder’s Bank – where we even won a pay rise – Lancaster tried to move me to other contracts.”

After helping to organise demonstrations of migrant workers sacked by another cleaning privateer, Mitie, Mr Durango said that he was suspended under a clause in his employment contract called “third-party pressure.”

He claimed that “this allows management to stop you working for any reason and they don’t even have to give you a reason.”

Lancaster, which was taken over by the huge multinational services privateer Rentokil Initial in 2007, has many cleaning contracts at prestigious buildings in London, including the landmark Tower 42 and Swiss Re buildings.

A spokesman for Rentokil Initial said last night that the company was looking into what had happened, but Mr Durango insisted that the police officers who arrested him had already told him that he wouldn’t have a job to go back to.

“I was told by the police that I’ve lost my job, but I’ve heard nothing from the company,” he said.

Friday 3 July
Meet 10.30am outside Canary Wharf tube exit for picket at 11am at 31 Beaufort Court, Admirals Way, London E14 9XL.

Supported by: Latin American Workers Association, Coordinadora Latinoamericana, National Shop Stewards Network, Clerkenwell & St Pancras Unite branch, John McDonnell MP and more

Note: the weekly Willis/Mitie cleaners picket has been suspended in order to support Alberto.


Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on Thursday, 7 May, 2009 by bristolnoborders

Many of you will know Alberto, a Colombian activist who worked as a cleaner at Schroders in the City of London who has recently been involved in the Mitie/Willis dispute and has spoken at various union branches and forums in recent months including the NSSN.

This morning after attending a construction workers’ demo at the Olympic site he was called to a meeting at his employer, the cleaning contractor Lancaster, at 9.15am. Upon arrival he was met by four policemen, inxcluding immigration police, and arrested on suspicion of working under false papers.

The police took Alberto in handcuffs to his house, questioning him on why he had socialist papers in his bags. He also had a DVD about the Tamil struggle about his person (having been given it for free on a demo) and the police said that they would have to consider this “terrorist” material in his case. All these materials were confiscated and his house searched before he was taken to the Peckham police station.

In reality, Alberto had come to the UK in 1998 on a student visa, and when it expired in 2002 his employer Lancaster told him to assume a false name. Only now after he has become a leading labour activist has this same employer chosen to raise the issue of his immigration status, involving the police.

Fortunately Alberto escaped with a caution and was released by 8pm. But this was a clear case of victimisation and Alberto has now lost all the benefits accrued during 10 years’ employment, such as the right to redundancy pay, as well as his job itself (he was until recently on suspension with pay).

Alberto is adamant that “the fight is only just beginning”.

3 women – 1 man

2 Latin Americans – 2 Africans

1 shop steward – 3 union members


All four have now been holding demonstrations with supporters for 3 months now! Four cleaners against two huge companies: Willis (global insurance brokers) and Mitie Cleaning & Support Services.

The next one tomorrow will start at Wilis and will head off around 13.30 to HBO, 33 Old Broad Stret EC2 where all four had been working for Mitie as well.:

Friday 08 May

1300 hours

Willis Building, 51 Lime Street, London EC3M 7DQ

(tube: Liverpool Street / Bank; bus 25)

Information: Edwin 07931 464 890 or Alberto 07803 634 319