Socialist Worker

Raise pressure on firm that sacked this cleaner

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2171

Juan Carlos Piedra (right) (Pic:» Guy Smallman )

Juan Carlos Piedra (right) (Pic: » Guy Smallman)

The Office and General (O&G) cleaning company last week offered dismissed worker Juan Carlos Piedra a job of three hours a day cleaning the UCL university, undermining its own reasons for making him redundant.

It had claimed that it had no work for him at UCL.

The offer came at a meeting a few days after Socialist Worker exclusively published a transcript of a recording of a meeting between Piedra and his bosses, which exposed management’s attitude towards trade unions.

Piedra is a member of the Unite union and a campaigner in the Justice for Cleaners organisation. He worked for O&G at the Harbour Exchange building in London.

Following a complaint by the client he was called in for a meeting with managers Guy Travers and Hector Alzate.

Alzate said to Piedra, “What is the organisation you are with? You are in some sort of organisation, you keep telling every single one about it. You are in…” “a trade union,” finished Travers.

Alzate later continued, “You could be in whatever organisation, which is fine… There’s no point if you keep telling everyone, if you get touched… then you go for tribunal. If you did, it’s like you’re looking for trouble.”

Travers also told Piedra that he had sacked the Justice for Cleaners’ representative at UCL after the rep had put up posters saying that workers should “unite and stand together”.

Piedra was transferred to work at UCL on 24 August.

Two days later his manager told him that he was worried as he had investigated his role in campaigns. He was then told that there was no job for him at UCL and later made redundant.

Piedra’s Unite rep demanded at last week’s meeting that the company right the wrong that it had done by reinstating him.

O&G claimed that there is no job for him at UCL.

The company also asked to talk about the recording of the meeting between Piedra, Alzate and Travers, but the Unite rep declined this as the meeting had been organised only to talk about the job.

Later Piedra was offered a part-time job, which was rejected, as he had a ten-hour a day job previously.

Trade unionists and campaigners at the university are demanding that he is reinstated.

They believe that he was sacked for his trade union activities. They have organised a protest at UCL for Thursday of this week.

More than 50 people joined a previous march that handed in a petition to the UCL provost demanding Piedra’s reinstatement.

Protest in support of Juan Carlos Piedra, 1pm, Thursday 1 October, UCL Quad, (off Gower Street) WC1E

Hands off my workmate, organising for migrant workers’ rights conference, 10am, Saturday 17 October, Soas, Thornhaugh St, London WC1H 0XG. Supported by the RMT, Soas students’ union, Soas UCU and Soas Unison

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Article information

Tue 29 Sep 2009, 18:27 BST
Issue No. 2171
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