The London branch of the Industrial Workers of the World today staged a picket of the offices of law firm White and Case LLP against the sacking of Yolanda, a shop steward for the IWW. Mitie, the outsourcing company, claims that Yolanda’s conduct was the reason for her firing however she had never received any complaints against her from Mite’s client. In fact she has regularly been praised for the quality of her work. The real reason for the sacking is her activity as a shop steward for the IWW in trying to unionise her fellow workers and campaigning against threatened job cuts.
The IWW is making three demands of Mitie management:
Yolanda reinstated with no loss of hours or pay.
NO loss of jobs for cleaners at White and Case LLP.
Victimising staff with trade union membership stops.
These kind of sackings are important to protest and organise against as low paid outsourced workers are especially susceptible to exploitation and have so far lacked the unionisation needed to defend against harrasment. Details for contacting White and Case LLP to demand Yolanda’s reinstatement can be found at bottom of this article.
This case is only the latest example of the victimisation of union activists by large companies and their outsourcing contractors. Last month Carolina, a cleaner at clothing chain Topshop was sacked for joining the United Voices of the World Union and campaigning for the London Living Wage. As in the case of Yolanda, the outsourcing company cited unspecified conduct complaints for the reason of the dismissal.
The use of outsourcing contracts by big companies is justified as a means to save money and improve ‘quality of service.’ However outsourcing allows companies like White and Case and Topshop to shift responsibility to the external contractors who are less in the public eye. This make it more difficult to put under pressure to improve workers pay and conditions.
Low paid outsourced workers are at the forefront of attacks against the working class and represent an increased precariousness in the workforce overall. Precarity increases worker anxiety in their jobs and hinders political action to improve conditions for fear of losing their only source of income.
The UVW national demonstration against Topshop on May the 14th was encouraging and it is clear we need more actions such as these in the coming months.
Email White and Case LLP with a demand to reinstate Yolanda at www.whitecase.com.