(Press release PDF attached) – We, the Industrial Workers of the World want to express our deep concern and strong condemnation for the suspension of the SOAS cleaner, leading activist of the Justice for Cleaners campaign and UNISON rep Lenin Escudero, who has been suspended from his job by the cleaning contractor, ISS, on the 5 September 2012 for refusing to obey to his manager’s request to carry out extra work on top of his normal duties on an unpaid basis. Lenin is being subjected to a disciplinary procedure on Monday 08 October 2012 that might result in his dismissal simply for refusing to take on duties not specified in his job description.
This process is disgraceful. Lenin is a respected and well liked colleague and trade union activist who has worked tirelessly on behalf of the workers he represents. This is a blatant victimisation and an attempt to intimidate the unionised cleaners, who are currently campaigning for outsourced workers to be given the same sick pay, holiday pay and pension entitlements as all other staff employed directly by SOAS University.
This is NOT an isolated event. ISS is well know for it’s dirty union-busting tactics 1, which has included close collaboration with SOAS management and the UK Border agency in the orchestrated dawn raid of June 2009. Back then this led to an occupation by SOAS students of the School’s main building2.
Three years on, the culture of fear has made a good job in keeping workers silent before the continued abuses by ISS and the complicit approval of SOAS management. But the workers have had enough. Such top-down, intimidating and disproportionate managerial behaviour should have no place at SOAS.
The Industrial Workers of the World joins forces with the Justice for Cleaners Campaign, the entire student body and members of staff of the SOAS community, and supports UNISON demands that Lenin Escudero is immediately reinstated to his position and that SOAS management intervenes to make sure that Lenin suffers no further victimisation at the hands of ISS management.
This attack on Lenin is just another attempt to break the union in SOAS. The labour movement and students need to send a clear message back: we will not tolerate more victimisation. Both SOAS and ISS must constructively engage with Justice for Cleaners campaign, which demands equal terms and conditions for outsourced workers in SOAS.
Universities cannot be critical in theory but indifferent in practice. So this is also a call to all academic and research staff. Tolerating (or condoning) abusive practices selectively is simply not an option. You either condemn abuse or help to perpetuate it.
An injury to one is an injury to all!
Signed – Industrial Workers of the World
European Regional Administration