Justice for Mary - Justice for all our Cleaner Grade Members

The dastardly attacks on our cleaning grade activists by ISS, the largest of the cleaning companies, intensified throughout January. Mary Boakye, our dedicated rep at Northumberland Park depot, was wrongly sacked following an accident at work in October, reinstated and then sacked again at a hearing on December 9th. Mary had an appeal hearing at the ISS head office on January 8th. At the same time the secretary of the cleaning grades committee, Clara Osagiede, was facing a trumped up charge of going home early after representing a member. A large crowd of supporters protested outside the office and obviously rattled ISS management, particularly in the face of complaints from their neighbours in the mainly residential area. They dropped the silly charge against Clara. At her original hearing management took the decision to dismiss Mary before evening listening to the defence argument. At her appeal, Mary was represented by Steve Hedley, our new regional organiser, who stated that management just ignored every point he made. Because of the supporters outside, chicken managers reserved judgement, only to confirm Mary's dismissal the following day. A further protest took place outside the ISS office on January 15th.

A well attended public meeting, on behalf of Mary and the other cleaners, took place at the Exmouth Arms on January 23rd where RMT members and supporters vowed to continue the battle to defend our cleaning activists. On Monday January 26th, another protest took place and supporters occupied the ISS office for a time. Even though supporters left the office before the arrival of the police, the constabulary adopted a heavy handed attitude and refused to allow a peaceful protest outside. They threatened to arrest us for breach of the peace if we didn’t move away. At this time, Steve Hedley was in the building representing Philip Mambuliya, the cleaning grade chairman, who was being questioned about his national insurance number. Shortly afterwards, Steve & Philip emerged to tell us the news we had feared: Philip was sacked for allegedly having a dodgy National Insurance number 6 years ago, even though there is currently no problem with his immigration status.

We need to stop the cleaning companies in their tracks, and make sure they get the message that we will not tolerate their attacks upon our cleaning colleagues. The fightback has already begun with more lobbies and protests, such as the recent one outside ISS HQ, by cleaners and their supporters planned. The union is also building up support amongst cleaners for a strike ballot. It was the strike of last year which eventually secured the London living wage of ₤7.45 an hour for Underground cleaners; perhaps it will take another strike to stop these same companies from attacking and sacking our cleaner members.