Socialist Worker

Cleaner Juan Carlos Piedra's fight for justice goes on

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2172

Supporters of sacked cleaner Juan Carlos Piedra pledged to keep up the fight for justice this week after new developments in the case.

The Office & General (O&G) cleaning company dismissed him last month in what many people see as victimisation for his trade union activities.

The company offered him a 40-hours a week job at the Harbour Exchange building in London after trade unionists and others launched a powerful campaign in his support.

But then O&G told him he was to be transferred to another company as it had lost the cleaning contract at the building. Juan Carlos and his supporters were discussing this development as Socialist Worker went to press.

They have said that they will continue the fight for his reinstatement at University College London (UCL), where he worked before he was dismissed.

Piedra’s Unite union, the unions at UCL and Camden Trades Council are all backing him as he seeks justice for what many allege is victimisation for his trade union activities, and his loss of earnings.

Piedra originally worked for O&G for 50 hours a week at the Harbour Exchange building in London. After a complaint from a client, he was called in to a meeting with O&G managers Guy Travers and Hector Alzate.

As Socialist Worker revealed when we published transcripts of a recording of the meeting, the managers spoke about Piedra’s activity in the union and the Justice for Cleaners campaign.

He was told he would be transferred to University College London (UCL).

Investigated

Two days after he started work at UCL, Piedra’s 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.

This outraged many at the university and in the local area.

Trade unionists and campaigners joined a protest at UCL on Thursday of last week, during the university’s busy freshers’ fair. Piedra and others addressed students queuing in the main square from a stage.

They then came across UCL’s provost, professor Malcolm Grant, and challenged him on his position over Piedra’s dismissal.

During the half-hour discussion, Grant said that he had not heard the recording of the meeting or seen any of the evidence that people had mentioned.

After being told he would receive this evidence, Grant told Piedra’s supporters, “If you behave honourably, I will behave honourably too.

“I will look at the evidence carefully and then I will make a decision whether I will speak to you and write to O&G.”


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Tue 6 Oct 2009, 18:30 BST
Issue No. 2172
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