Independent Workers Union of Great Britain

Royal College of Music outsourced cleaners and supporters to protest cuts and unfair dismissals

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Cleaners working at the Royal College of Music (RCM) and their supporters will be protesting cuts to hours and unfair dismissals that disproportionately impact the college’s Latin American workers, in what is another example of the exploitative nature of the UK’s broken outsourcing system.

The demonstration called by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is scheduled to take place today at 6:30pm outside the Royal College of Music, Prince Consort Rd, Kensington, London SW7 2BS, and will coincide with a concert conducted by renowned maestro Bernard Haitink.

The protest is against arbitrary and unfair changes being imposed on the college’s night cleaners by new contractor Tenon FM. The majority of the cleaners have rejected new contracts that would see their hours cut in half and as a result the company has issued them with notices of dismissal. Some of these have already served their notice, while others are in the last days of their notice period.

The IWGB demands that all dismissals be immediately halted, that the the cleaners that have been already dismissed be reinstated and that all cleaners be allowed to continue working on their original hours.

The union is also preparing tribunal claims against Tenon FM for unfair dismissal and breach of TUPE, and against the Royal College of Music for discrimination, as we have been made aware that the decision to cut the cleaners’ hours is the result of cost cutting decisions made by the college that disproportionately impact Latin American migrants.

Wilson Ayala Romero, cleaner and IWGB rep at the RCM: “It’s deeply unfair that after five years of loyal service, from one day to the next they just take away my job. I clean their offices, I clean their classrooms and I am as much an employee as anyone else who works here, so I should be treated with the same respect. Despite that, they keep on treating us cleaners as if we were second class employees.

IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee said: “RCM’s recent move is just one more example of the college treating its cleaners like the dirt they clean. As the UK public sector’s outsourcing dirty laundry continues to get aired, the public will no doubt take a keen interest in the latest scandal occurring at RCM. If the college thinks it can just dismiss a group of Latin American cleaners to save a few quid on the cleaning bill with no consequences, they have another thing coming.”

In the past few weeks the cleaners have been on strike and a number of surprise protests have been held at the college.

These cleaners have a long history of suffering at the hands of the companies contracted out by the college to provide cleaning services. The IWGB was forced to launch legal proceedings against the previous cleaning contractor, Kingdom, after it unlawfully withheld thousands of pounds in wages from cleaners at RCM, the Royal College of Arts and Heythrop College. Following a process that lasted over a year, the company ended up settling in July, a day before the hearing was set to start.For more information:

Emiliano Mellino, IWGB press officer

press@iwgb.co.uk

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