29 July 2014
Staff working for London Underground caterers Sodexo are to strike next week over the victimisation and dismissal of union activist Petrit Mihaj. The strike action will be between 06.30 hours and 11.00 hours on Monday 4th August.
Petrit has been a major force in building union organisation on the LUL Sodexo depot catering contract and has been instrumental in securing union recognition and delivering improvements in pay and conditions and effective representation of staff. An Employment Tribunal has already ruled that Petrit’s dismissal was unfair and that he was sacked for his trade union activities but under the UK’s notorious anti-union laws the company are under no obligation to reinstate him to his original job.
RMT has had no option but to begin a campaign of industrial action to secure workplace justice and a return to work for Petrit Mihaj.
Sodexo itself, one of the Government’s favourite private contractors, has a long form sheet when it comes to union bashing and treating its workforce like dirt.
With a lucrative portfolio of contracts in prisons, the NHS, schools, defence and other parts of the public sector, Sodexo was recently exposed in the national press for a catalogue of claims of bullying, racism and harassment. This includes a report that an employee was hit by a director who said it was “punch a black week”. Other reports say that the personnel section in Sodexo’s defence division has been “ethnically cleansed” of non-white staff.
The culture of bullying and racism isn’t restricted to Sodexo’s UK operations. In 2005 the company was forced to pay £47.2 million to settle a lawsuit brought by thousands of black employees in America who had been routinely barred from promotion and segregated by the company.
RMT Acting General Secretary Mick Cash said:
“It is shameful that a company like Sodexo, with its shocking track record of racism and bullying, are allowed to win Government and London Underground contracts. The attack on Petrit Mihaj is just another reason why they should be banned from public contracts as the regulations allow.
“RMT has made it crystal clear that we will not allow this outrageous attack on unions reps and union organisation at facilities giant Sodexo to go unchallenged.
“Petrit Mihaj has stood up for the union and for his colleagues and it is only right that the entire RMT organisation stands shoulder to shoulder with him now that he is being attacked and victimised.
“This is the most blatant and clear-cut example of victimisation and dismissal on the grounds of union activity that it is possible to imagine – a fact backed up by the Employment Tribunal. It is due to the anti-union and anti-worker laws in this country that we have to continue to campaign for the reinstatement of Petrit Mihaj and in defence of strong, fighting union organisation at Sodexo.”