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IWW Cleaners rally, The Guildhall, London, Monday 7th Nov

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Felix Frost's picture
Felix Frost
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Nov 4 2011 23:06
IWW Cleaners rally, The Guildhall, London, Monday 7th Nov

IWW International Day of Action against Sodexo and Coporation of London
Monday 7th November 2011
10am -- 12pm
The Guildhall, Gresham Street, London EC2V 7HH

On 7 November, protests are taking place around the world in solidarity with cleaners (janitors) who work at the City of London Corporation’s Guildhall, employed on contracts by the French based corporation Sodexo.

The vast majority of cleaners at the Guildhall are members of the independent trade union the Industrial Workers of the World. In summer 2011, the cleaners waged a successful campaign to secure months of unpaid wages, and achieved the reinstatement of a victimised trade union member. Since then the cleaners have been campaigning to secure justice on pay, equality and respect at work.

Sodexo pay poverty wages:
Corporation of the City of London, who hires Sodexo, is the richest local authority in the UK. It encompasses the foremost financial centre of the world. Yet these employers refuse to pay cleaners the London Living Wage of a mere £8.30 per hour – despite it being officially recognised by the Greater London Authority that a wage earner paid less will be living in poverty.

Sodexo one law for workers – one law for the bosses:
When Sodexo took over the contract at Guildhall, they suspended the IWW Representative Wilmer Cardenas who faces dismissal. For being outspoken in defence of fellow workers, he has been accused of being aggressive. In contrast, managers who have been the subject of complaints of threatening workers with violence, of abusive and bullying treatment including locking a woman up for two-hours - these bosses have seen no such robust action by Sodexo.

Management nepotism:
For years cleaners at Guildhall have witnessed the management have operated a system of favouritism in promotion and allocation of work. Family and friends of bosses have been given the best jobs, access to earning more wages and promotion to become supervisors.

Defend Union rights:
When they took over the contract Sodexo made an agreement with the IWW to tackle the issues of inequality by the end of September, they assured the union of robust action against abusive managers. Whilst IWW kept its part of the agreement to suspend their demonstrations, Sodexo did not fulfil their promises. They cheated the cleaners. Many union members continue to be the subject of hostility by bosses. Those who led the union campaign for unpaid wages have been targeted for revenge. Some who complain are made clean toilets day after day. Whilst workers who present medical evidence have been forced to do tasks that can make their condition worse.

London Regional Office
2nd Floor,
145-157 St John Street,
London, England
United Kingdom, EC1V 4PY
Email: chrisfordiww (at) aol.com

Join the International Day of Solidarity against Sodexo
Justice for Cleaners at the City of London Guildhall
Sodexo want one thing – flexibility. They want workers who will obey their every command. IWW cleaners will not suffer in silence! They are fighting back and demanding:

· End bullying, abuse and nepotism
· No victimisation of IWW union activists
· London Living wage of £8.30 per hour

This appeal for solidarity on 7 November is made by the
London IWW Cleaners and Allied Industries branch, Industrial Union 640
Supported by the IWW London Regional Delegate Committee

London members of Education Workers Industrial Union 620
London members of Print and Publishing House Workers Industrial Union 450
London Bus workers Branch Industrial Union 530
London IWW Cleaners and Allied Industries branch, Industrial Union 640

waslax's picture
waslax
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Nov 5 2011 21:43

Was this release written by the UK IWW?

Felix Frost wrote:
The vast majority of cleaners at the Guildhall are members of the independent trade union the Industrial Workers of the World.

Does the UK IWW refer to itself as an "independent trade union"?

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
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Nov 5 2011 22:10

Yes and Yes (although I'm not an IWW member).

On the second question, it's true. They are "independent" as in non-TUC and a "trade union", as in they are registered with the state as a trade union.

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Felix Frost
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Nov 6 2011 13:56

This is an IWW release, but I don't think the UK IWW normally refers to itself as an "independent trade union". Normally I think it would be "independent workers union".

Here is another press release for tomorrow's event:

Quote:
London Guildhall Cleaners Hold International Solidarity Protest

On Monday 7th November at 10am, the cleaners of the prestigious London Guildhall will be holding a noisy and lively protest against their direct employers, Sodexo, and also the City of London Corporation, who control the cleaning contract. Their demands are: dignity and respect at work from management, the reinstatement of victimised union rep Wilmer Cardenas and to receive the London Living Wage which is currently set at £8.30.

There will be other solidarity demonstrations taking place by other cleaners, workers and students in Ireland, Canada, France, Colombia, USA and around the globe protesting about workers' rights abuses by Sodexo in solidarity with the US based “Kick out Sodexo” campaign. This protest will be the third demonstration staged by Guildhall cleaners this year, whom have been unionised by the IWW, following a period in July where several migrant cleaners had not received weeks of pay and the contracting company Ocean failed to resolve it in a timely manner until successive organised protest demonstrations were held.

Raquel, a mother of two explains why she is taking part:

Quote:
“Every day I wake up at 5:00am and get home at 12:00 pm. I receive £6.08 per hour, and my life is spent if not at work then travelling on the Underground going from one job to another. The money I receive after tax and travel costs is not enough for me to survive and support my family, I have no extra help. Often I get more than 20 hours of work, I am one of the lucky ones as many of my co-workers struggle in misery on 4 to 6 hours.”

Chris Ford, an IWW organiser says:

Quote:
“The City of London Corporation has had plenty of bad publicity due to other recent protests. How can they ‘highly commend’ the GLA Group for its Sustainability Procurement Award in 2009, but fail to apply those standards to its own procurement now in 2011? It should give itself a good news story by ending its hypocrisy on procurement and pay these cleaners the London Living Wage. “

John McDonnell MP for Hayes and Harlington supports the protest and says:

Quote:
"Low paid workers across the world are demonstrating that they've had enough and are not talking it anymore. Workers are on the march again and are demanding their rights and I am with them all the way."
Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
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Nov 6 2011 14:09

Perhaps this seems like shit-flinging, but, really, quoting an MP on the press release?

sawa
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Nov 6 2011 15:07

Surely it is a press release, the media isn't socialist, so if you quote figures they respect then they are more likely to print it and it appears more professional.

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Chilli Sauce
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Nov 6 2011 15:18

That seems to be opportunism at the expense of principles--and it's not like we'll ever win the support of the capitalist media anyway. Nor is it media (or even public) support which wins disputes, for that matter.

But I guess, fair enough, if your goal is to appear professional (i.e. a legitimate trade union) that's probably not a bad tactic.

sawa
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Nov 6 2011 15:25

Well it depends what it is one wants to win, obv we wont win working class power but I do think it helps build pressure in individual disputes like this. It isn't really the support of the media you are generally after but just for them to reprint ones press release.
Oops off topic but I don't think principles should carry when they are not overwhelmingly tactically useful for principles are no more than generalised strategy.

I hope the event goes well. :] Solidarity and all that.

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Fall Back
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Nov 6 2011 15:28

I think the "trade union" bit here is a red herring. In UK parlance (ie in this context the media) trade union just means unions - eg UNISON and Unite, which don't organise on a "trade" basis get called trade unions.

Someone can correct me if wrong, but pretty sure that legally there is no distinction between a trade union/industrial union/independent union/whatever. If you're legally registered to bargain like that, you're a trade union so far as the law is concerned.

I think it's just them talking in common language, it doesn't signify anything.

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Serge Forward
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Nov 6 2011 15:30

Steady on Chilli Sauce, put them claws away before you scratch yourself.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of how the IWW or that branch expresses itself, the fact remains, John Mcdonnell is not a member of the IWW and doesn't have any say in the running of the union. There's nowt wrong with quoting in a press release someone who is actually supportive of your struggle, even if they are a Labour MP. Rest assured, no principles have been betrayed by quoting John Mcdonnell and no animals were hurt in the printing of that press leaflet, probably.

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Nov 6 2011 15:33
Fall Back wrote:
Someone can correct me if wrong, but pretty sure that legally there is no distinction between a trade union/industrial union/independent union/whatever. If you're legally registered to bargain like that, you're a trade union so far as the law is concerned.

Correct. Legally, 'trade union' is the accepted term.

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Chilli Sauce
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Nov 6 2011 16:55
Serge Forward wrote:
Steady on Chilli Sauce, put them claws away before you scratch yourself.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of how the IWW or that branch expresses itself, the fact remains, John Mcdonnell is not a member of the IWW and doesn't have any say in the running of the union. There's nowt wrong with quoting in a press release someone who is actually supportive of your struggle, even if they are a Labour MP. Rest assured, no principles have been betrayed by quoting John Mcdonnell and no animals were hurt in the printing of that press leaflet, probably.

The IWW is the organisation its members want it to be. If they want to register with the state and cozy up to MPs (remember, McDonnell also spoke at their Parliament meeting), that's their prerogative. However, the issue isn't whether McDonnell is a member (although--to throw in a bit more shit-slinging--there was that whole débâcle with the Scottish MSP), but the principle in question is engaging in such a way with national politicians who, be definition, are members of the ruling class. If it's true that "the working class and the employing class have nothing in common" than why are the IWW getting involved with and quoting parliamentarians?

I wish the IWW and the cleaners all the best. When they undertake activity I can support as an anarcho-syndicalist--strikes, including wildcats, and demos--I make a personal effort to be there and to offers SF's organisational support and solidarity. But criticism is also part of solidarity, comrade.

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Chilli Sauce
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Nov 6 2011 16:59

Re: trade union. Of course, legally, you're correct, but it is a choice the IWW makes in how to promote itself. It could say "union", "industrial union", "labour union" or even "revolutionary union." Instead they chose trade union, which I think reflects the fact that some people in the organisation are pretty damn happy that the IWW is a 'legitimate' trade union and no longer hampered by that pesky unofficial status, with all its anarchisty undertones.

sawa
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Nov 6 2011 17:45
Serge Forward wrote:
Steady on Chilli Sauce, put them claws away before you scratch yourself.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of how the IWW or that branch expresses itself, the fact remains, John Mcdonnell is not a member of the IWW and doesn't have any say in the running of the union. There's nowt wrong with quoting in a press release someone who is actually supportive of your struggle, even if they are a Labour MP. Rest assured, no principles have been betrayed by quoting John Mcdonnell and no animals were hurt in the printing of that press leaflet, probably.

This.

Chilli what action are they undertaking which you don't support, out of interest?
Presumably they are doing so because the power of us as a class is really low(union density etc), The politicians have influence more so than us in capitalist society why not use them where we can. It would be different if John McDonald wanted to join the IWW like you say as it should be an economic based organisation. I didn't realise the SSP MSP's were in the IWW I thought it was just their staff which is entirely different, but then I don't know that much about it as was ageees ago. tongue

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Chilli Sauce
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Nov 6 2011 18:49

I don't really want to make this into a critiquing the UK IWW thread as I don't think that will benefit anyone and there's a dozen threads (some of which are linked at the bottom of this thread) where I've made my criticisms. Suffice to say that I'm more than happy to find areas for practical co-operation and have personally authored some of the SF's solidarity statement to the IWW.

I helped write this:

http://libcom.org/library/direct-unionism-discussion-paper-09052011

While it's an American context, the generalities of participating in a state labour relations regime generalise.

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Felix Frost
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Nov 8 2011 14:25

Short video from the rally on the BBC website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15622864