In April earlier this year Cetin Avsar, a United Voices of World union member, was leading a strike at St Georges Hospital where he was a security guard.
Fast forward to this month and Cetin was in a new job working as a security guard for Wilson James, a security contractor. Just three weeks into the new job and after Wilson James had found out about the prior union activities the company set its mind against Cetin (the facts are so stark there is no other reasonable explanation).
Cetin was called to a meeting and was suspended from his role, he was also handed a letter explaining the employer’s reasons for wanting to potentially dismiss him which stated (and this really is a quote!):
In you (sic) most recent employment with Noonans (sic) where you were employed as a Security Officer for about 2.5yrs at St. George’s University, you were leading a campaign to be taken in-house and given the same terms as all in house employees. The union you have joined and who have supported you in your campaign are United Voices of the World (UVW), who in their words ‘believe that outsourcing is antiquated and discriminatory’. You planned a 13 day strike action earlier in the year to protest on the above. Wilson James are also a contractor, which fundamentally means that there is a conflict of interest between your opinion and work with the union which lead to your protesting, and your employment with Wilson James”.An excerpt from the letter from Wilson James to Cetin Avansa
In June the COO of the company set out on behalf of the company in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement how they must “do more” including the opinion they should exhibit “allyship”:
‘allyship’ involves acknowledging white privilege, listening to BAME experiences of racism, and not being quiet bystanders to racial injustice. Most importantly, allies must act to ensure their organisations, and the power they hold, do not enable racism—even and especially inadvertently through ignorance.Gemma Quirke, MD for Security Services at Wilson James
The sheer gall to publish such opinions when the company has subsequently persisted in not only moving to dismiss a worker for the simple facts of being a trade unionist and undertaking union activities and for speaking out on the negative impact of outsourcing on BAME workers is breathtaking.
Cetin is expressly being targeted for his trade union work and for because of his views on the racial discrimination of outsourced service providers and while Wilson James may have allies it is clear it is not with those who speak up over race discrimination!
Cetin’s trade union, UVW, are rightly outraged by the flagrantly unlawful and actions of Wilson James and have pledged full industrial and legal support in the event of dismissal as well as pursuing an injunction at the High Court to be heard next week (more on this below).
If you are a union member please encourage your branch to send messages of solidarity to UVW, take part in the e-action to Wilson James, had publicise the case to bring public scrutiny upon the a company that is willing to treat its workers with such scorn.
UVW is a small union and the decision to pursue the injunction is a potentially costly one but one for which the whole union movement should support. To help cover costs a Crowd funder has been set up and I think it would great if you can spare a few quid to show UVW that solidarity Cetin is much wider that just within UVW.
To donate to the Crown funder please visit Crowd Justice.
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