An image of the Francis Crick Institute, cloudy blue sky
The Francis Crick Institute. Image credits via yellow book, creative commons.

Cetin Avsar, a trade union activist with United Voices of the World (UVW), had only spent three weeks working for outsourcing firm Wilson James, providing security at the Francis Crick Institute. Yet, on the 10th November he received a letter inviting him to a disciplinary hearing where faced dismissal, and was subsequently suspended.

UVW and Avsar argue the reason for this suspension was clear, Wilson James had discovered Avsar’s work organising and writing against outsourcing, a practice where employees are hired from an external company, often on worse terms than existing ‘in-house’ employees.

In their letter to Avsar explaining the grounds for the disciplinary action, Wilson James pointed to Avsar’s previous efforts organising a campaign to be taken in-house whilst working as a Security Officer at St. George’s University. As both UVW and Avsar believe that outsourcing is ‘antiquated and discriminatory’ the letter stated to Avsar ‘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.’

Speaking in response to his suspension and threatened dismissal, Mr Avsar said the following:

‘I am totally shocked by the way Wilson James is treating me. They are totally victimising me for being a member of UVW union and for having taken lawful strike action against my previous employer Bidvest Noonan at St George’s of London. This has caused me a lot of distress. I have done nothing wrong. They are breaching my human rights and I will not stand for it.’

Petros Elia, UVW Co-Founder and Organiser, added further:

‘In my 8 years as a trade unionist I have never seen such a blatant and egregious violation of a worker’s human rights. This is far more than just a case of victimisation – Mr Avsar is also being punished for his beliefs that outsourcing, a practice which more often than not sees BAME and migrant workers in London receive inferior pay rates to their White in-house counterparts, is racist, discriminatory and unjust.’

In response, UVW has vowed to seek an injunction in the High Court to stop Wilson James dismissing Avsar. They argue that this action breaches two of Avsar’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to freedom of thought, belief and religion and the freedom of assembly and association. UVW are seeking an injunction to prevent the dismissal and will apply for interim relief if he is dismissed. They have also launched an Action Network petition where supporters can write in support of Avsar.

When approached for comment, Wilson James responded with the following:

Wilson James is aware of the claims made by UVW, but as the situation concerning Mr Avsar remains under review it would not be appropriate to provide further comment at this time.

At Bright Green we increasingly want to engage with ongoing trade union issues and link them with our writing on the environment. If you have information you wish to share on trade union and other worker organising, contact us at front-desk@bright-green.org