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Demo in solidarity with cleaners

Tue, 14/09/2010 - 00:00

Members of North London SF demonstrated alongside other militants outside the head offices of London & Regional Properties, owners of Berns Salonger, a company that treats the cleaners it employs with intolerable conditions. The background information provided is borrowed from the Commune website.


For months the Swedish Workers Central Organisation (SAC) union in Sweden has been locked in a confrontation with the Nightclub “Berns”. Berns have a notorious record for mistreating cleaning staff, which it has avoided responsibility for through subcontractors. Cleaning staff work inhumane hours, sometimes up to 22 hours a day 7 days a week, sleeping on cardboard boxes in the workplace. With the main Swedish union LO, unwilling to organise these paperless workers, SAC have organised the cleaners of the nightclub, campaigned for better conditions, higher pay, less hours, and above all, dignity for the staff. The result of each struggle (won by blockades of the night club) has been that Berns bosses have moved the cleaners form one staffing company to another.

The cleaning staff have worked now for seven years and for three different companies. All the time, conditions have been criminal. The SAC have argued that Berns has a responsibility for these people, from Bolivia, Peru, Mongolia and Chile, since they have moved them from one staffing company to another only to avoid responsibility for their exploitation. Now the employing company NCA (sub-contractor for Berns) has fired all the cleaners at Berns’ nightclub due to “economic problems”. Berns still needs cleaning. Berns has attempted to look respectable by saying it would hire back some of the staff directly, and offered them continued work, however all the union-organised cleaners have been left out. This is good old fashioned union busting.

After months of blockading, the cracks are starting to show. Booked DJs and Artists have refused to play at Berns, forcing them to cancel events. An outrageous media offensive has labeled the SAC a mafia for having ‘pressured’ the business.

This demo was called by Cleaners’ Defence Committee, established earlier this year to organise solidarity with migrant cleaners at UBS bank in the City of London. For more details, email cleanersdefencecommittee@gmail.com.

The protest is also supported by the Latin American Workers’ Association; Colombia Solidarity Campaign; Hands Off My Workmate; Industrial Workers of the World; Solidarity Federation; The Commune, National Shop Stewards Network and 0543 RMT Finsbury Park Branch.

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Solidarity Federation