Cleaner Alberto Durango was reported to immigration by his bosses after building a union at his workplace and campaigning for the London living wage.
The 39-year-old activist was arrested and handcuffed at work by four police officers and an immigration official on Wednesday of last week. He was thrown into a police cell and his home was searched.
The officers confiscated socialist newspapers and warned him a DVD given to him at a Tamil protest would be treated as “terrorist material”.
The arrest came after the cleaning contractor Lancaster called immigration. Alberto had led a successful strike to stop new shifts at Schroders in the City of London and led a campaign for a pay rise from £6 to £7.45 an hour.
Alberto told Socialist Worker, “They rang immigration when they saw me protesting at their offices. I believe the intention was to get me deported and to split me up from my eight-year old son.”
The Colombian had in fact already applied and been given leave to remain by the Home Office in 2004 making his stay in Britain legal. He was given a caution by police for using a false name but also lost his job.
Alberto added, “The Unite union stopped us protesting in favour of negotiations but nothing seemed to happen.
“The union leaders used to be fighters but they always play safe. They don’t always like workers like me who fight their company.”
Alberto is now supporting cleaners working for the Mitie Cleaning and Support Services where five Unite members say they were made forcibly redundant after blocking new night shifts.