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UVW union is to sue the LSE for alleged disability discrimination and union victimisation after sacking a strike leader

Industrial reporter

THE London School of Economics (LSE) is facing legal action for allegedly subjecting a strike leader to disability discrimination and union victimisation. 

Colombian migrant cleaner Geovanny Moreno Buitrago was sacked when he tried to return to work in June following a period of sick leave with a herniated disc, according to his union United Voices of the World (UVW).

Despite two expert medical opinions, Mr Buitrago’s willingness to resume work, his own recommendations on what he is capable of doing and the university’s health policies, bosses deemed him unfit to work and dismissed him, the union said.

It confirmed an appeal against the decision and said it is suing the world-famous university on the grounds of disability discrimination and union victimisation following the cleaner’s organising activities.

Mr Buitrago, who played a part in UVW’s successful campaign to bring the formerly outsourced workforce in-house in 2017, was heavily involved in launching a cleaners’ strike at LSE over unpaid holiday pay earlier this year.

He said: “My condition has got something to do with it — but I think there’s more to it.

“I’ve always been at the forefront of the fight for LSE to give me and my colleagues what we deserve, and when I joined UVW it got more intense, because this union has really supported us.”

Following walkouts in May, the strikers launched legal action to demand the “thousands of pounds owed to them over several years following the underpayment of their holiday pay,” the union said.

“These conversations have been taking place for four or five years,” the cleaner explained. “They call us in, and we sit around the table. We talk and nothing changes.

“So, we ended up having to go on strike again and we hope we can find a solution to the issue of our unpaid holiday entitlement. And if we have to go back on strike, we will.”

In a statement, UVW also claimed that there was “strong evidence that LSE maintained a blacklist of unionists in 2017 — we have reason to believe this could be happening again.”

The union — founded in 2014 to represent mainly poorly paid migrant workers — demanded that Mr Buitrago be reinstated with full pay from June and that the entire workforce be given the holiday pay it says they are owed.

A university spokesperson told the Morning Star that it “does not comment on individual or ongoing cases.”


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