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Latin American cleaners fight for survival: lessons for migrant activism

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date07/2011
JournalRace and Class
Journal number1
Volume53
Number of pages18
Pages65-82
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article documents the significant successes and major setbacks of a campaign led by Latin American cleaners for union recognition and better pay and conditions at the University of London. It shows how they overcame fear, resignation, intimidation, racism, poverty and cultural and linguistic alienation to find their political agency. However, their collective empowerment was met by dismissals and deportations. The article argues that there are a number of important lessons for the trade union movement to learn; namely, the need to have specific legal and campaigning strategies in place to defend its migrant activists as well as calling for the regularisation of ‘irregular’ workers. In sum, the struggle for immigrant rights is at the cutting edge of the global working-class fightback.