Socialist Worker

University of East London cleaners fight victimisation of union rep

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2738

Cleaners protest outside the University of East London last year

Cleaners protest outside the University of East London last year (Pic: Miriam Scharf )


Outsourced workers at the University of East London (UEL) are fighting victimisation after daring to fight back. 

The Caiwu union is mounting an appeal against the dismissal of cleaner and union rep Carlos. Workers have been fighting for almost a decade for better conditions and for the university to end outsourcing and bring them in house.

They held a number of vibrant protests last year to take outsourcer Nviro to task. “Nviro’s contract with UEL ends this year,” Carlos told Socialist Worker. “It is a good time to continue the campaign to bring workers in house. 

“Security was brought in house—so cleaners can be as well.”

Carlos said “Nviro really started their full victimisation” when “my colleagues voted for me to represent them in 2019”. “It was when we started to fight back and have protests that the company began to really look at me,” he said. 

“They told my supervisor to watch me more closely, and management told them that I was the one who called in Caiwu to 'cause trouble'.” 

Cleaners in revolt over cuts and low pay
Cleaners in revolt over cuts and low pay
  Read More

When Carlos was accused of being late for work a number of times, he took a picture of his clocking-in slip to prove he’d come in on time. 

Management then accused Carlos of being in breach of data protection laws because he took a picture on his phone. 

Cleaners have played a vital role during coronavirus, but Carlos said that they are still treated appallingly. “What we do is very dangerous now with the pandemic,” he said. “And we have done it mostly without protection, with no masks provided. 

“I’m 58, I’m asthmatic and have diabetes and high blood pressure. I said I could come in. But we need more protection. 

“We need Nviro to offer more to cleaners.” 

Trade unionists and campaigners should support Carlos—and the workers’ fight to be brought in house.

Tweet solidarity to @caiwuunion

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.