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London: Fair Pay Campaigners Ejected From Wharf
East London Times
Michael Pooler

January 7, 2012
View the Original Article


Trade unionists campaigning for a London living wage for cleaners at Canary Wharf have complained of a “disrepect of civil liberties” after being ejected from the Wharf as they distributed leaflets on Thursday.

The group of around a dozen, including members of the Industrial Workers of the World union and their supporters, were forcibly removed from the premises by security at around 5pm.

They had been outside the 15-storey tower distributing campaign literature to employees drawing attention to the low pay of cleaners who work in the building. But after around 10 minutes a member of management instructed them to leave.

Immediately, eight security guards forced activists from the steps of the privately-owned building, claiming that they were “obstructing access”.

During the altercation a member of the IWW union shouted at the employees: “What about our civil liberties?”

The manager told protesters the nearest public place on which they had a right to be was the Heron Quay DLR station – 500 yards away.

But the activists said this made their action impossible as it prevented them from reaching people who work in the building, which is home to companies including HSCB, accounting firm KPMG and the Financial Services Authority.

Alberto Durango, IWW organiser, told EastLondonLines: “They are very rude people. Shame on them. We weren’t blocking anyone, there was plenty of space. We are just asking for a decent day’s pay and they won’t even let us say that.”

A spokesperson for the building’s management company MGPA said the group was asked to leave as “they were causing an obstruction on private property”.

When asked if a pay rise for cleaning staff was a possibility, MGPA declined to comment.

As previously reported by EastLondonLines, the union is calling on contractor LCC to pay cleaners the ‘London Living Wage’. Set at £8.30 an hour, this is a non-binding standard promoted by the Mayor of London in recognition of the high cost of living in the capital. The cleaners currently earn£6.23 per hour, 15 pence above the National Minimum Wage – but they say this is not enough to live on.