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Cleaners outsourcing dispute at the Royal College of Music

Cleaners outsourcing dispute at the Royal College of Music

On Saturday, July 29th, the Cleaners and Independent Workers Union (CAIWU) continued its campaign against the outsourced essential work company Tenon-FM, subcontracted by the Royal College of Music (RCM) for essential services. A public demonstration took place outside the college with the aim of securing the reinstatement of Joaquin Cardona, who was dismissed for actively participating in this union, while also seeking to address several demands focused on securing fair treatment and rights for cleaners at the college.

The reasons given by Tenon-FM for the dismissal are ever-shifting and self-contradictory, with evidence of indirectly targeting Joaquin’s union membership. Even in these times when Trade Unions are under constant legal, financial and administrative attack it is still illegal to dismiss workers for being proper active Trade Unionists. 

The RCM proudly proclaims on its website that it “is committed to creating a safe, fair and supportive environment for all” and regards itself as an institution whose doors are ‘thrown open to the whole world’. It claims to be an international and diverse community, which aims to ensure that “each individual is treated with respect and dignity, and that no student, member of staff for visitor is subjected to direct or indirect unlawful discrimination”. With these fine words in mind, a letter detailing the concerns has been addressed to Director Colin Lawson CBE, urging the institution to intervene and take ultimate and immediate responsibility in this matter. However, as of now, no response has been received.

Alberto Durango, the General Secretary of CAIWU, underscores the significance of holding Tenon FM accountable: “Our demands are reasonable and essential to rectify the injustices faced by our members. Reinstating Joaquin, ensuring fair workload distribution, backdated Living Wage payments to November, and overall fair working conditions for all employees are crucial steps towards resolving

the unfair treatment of workers”.

As with many others, the RCM should take this opportunity to grasp the nettle and reconsider its dependence on outsourced service providers in consultation with those who keep its buildings safe,

clean and its doors open – those currently subject to “direct and indirect unlawful discrimination” on

its premises.

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