FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
17 March, 2015, London. Seven outsourced women cleaners at the University of London are taking their employer to an employment tribunal on allegations of trade union victimization. The tribunal hearing is scheduled to take place from 16-27 March, 2015 at the London Central Employment Tribunal.
The seven Latin American women are activists, reps, and/or officials of the University of London Branch of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), a small trade union which represents mainly cleaners throughout London. The women, led by Sonia Chura, were also lead activists in the 3 Cosas Campaign which successfully fought for improved sick pay, holidays, and pensions at the University of London. All formerly members of UNISON, the women left in disgust along with the rest of their colleagues in April 2013 after UNISON invalidated an election in which cleaners and other pro-campaign candidates are believed to have won in a landslide. After the outsourced workers deserted UNISON en masse, the University of London and its sub-contractor Cofely developed ever cozier relations with UNISON, culminating in the appointment of the Cleaning Services Manager as the UNISON rep for outsourced workers at the University. The collusion between the University of London and UNISON was reported on by Aditya Chakrabortty in the Guardian.
The 3 Cosas Campaign attracted widespread publicity including from the Guardian, the Observer, the Times Higher Education, the Independent and more. The 3 Cosas Campaign has also attracted abundant support from student unions, trade unions, and politicians such as Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett and Labour MP John McDonnell. As part of the campaign these seven women went on strike various times, participated in numerous protests, flyering, videos, and other forms of public pressure.
In the summer of 2014 the University of London closed down three of its eight intercollegiate halls of residence: the Garden Halls. Out of all the different sites of the University of London’s sprawling campus, the Garden Halls happened to be where the union activists were most heavily concentrated. Cofely, the University of London’s subcontractor, went through redundancy procedures which resulted in not a single one of the most prominent IWGB trade union activists obtaining permanent employment whilst at the same time offering permanent jobs to the one UNISON rep and cleaners who were not members of the IWGB. These redundancy procedures were reported on by Nick Cohen in the Observer.
Sonia Chura, Vice-Chair of the University of London Branch of the IWGB, and the lead Claimant in the tribunal case, said: “We are proud of having won the 3 Cosas, however we have been victimized for being the most prominent trade union activists at the University of London. Despite being on the black list we have fought bravely to defend workers’ rights and now we will continue to fight until justice is achieved.”
A public hearing began on 16 March, 2015 at the London Central Employment Tribunal (Sonia Chura and others v Cofely Workplace Limited).
For more information, contact Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee at Jasonmoyerfirstname.lastname@example.org or at 07771783094.
To follow the latest developments see: Facebook: 3Cosas Campaign; Twitter: @3CosasCampaign
Past press coverage of 3 Cosas Campaign: https://3cosascampaign.wordpress.com/press-reports/