Cleaners, security guards and other service industry workers staged a protest outside Downing Street on Friday over the “culture of disrespect” towards Number 10 staff exposed in the Sue Gray report.
A banner reading “They partied while workers died” was held by members of union United Voices of the World (UVW), which represents cleaners and security guards, many of whom are migrants working in offices across London, including the Ministry of Justice (MoJ)
Protesters called for justice for Emanuel Gomes who died after experiencing Covid-19 symptoms in April 2020. He had continued to work as a cleaner at the MoJ after being denied adequate PPE.
Speaking to the crowd through a translator, Gomes’s cousin, Vicente Mendez, said: “We still continue to suffer. Fortunately we’re in the trade union to help us fight back but we are still suffering working in the Ministry of Justice.”
Susana Benavides, a former cleaner at Topshop’s flagship Oxford Street store, added: “We need to be conscious of the fact that there are many Emanuel’s around London, all suffering… (employers) want to discriminate against us but we’re not going to take that anymore.”
Around 90 protesters heard speeches from union members, cleaners and journalist Owen Jones, who told the crowd: “The people who run the British government have been raised with class hatred and spite for working class people for as long as they’ve known how to walk.”