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30.07.2020 / News /

“She is the manager but she is not more important than God”

You can also read this story in Spanish or Portuguese.

At first glance, Anacelli is a very polite, friendly and cheerful woman. However, behind the smile and inviting face, there is a woman armed with her strong faith and always striving for the truth and for what is right.

Anacelli is a fighter who has worked as a cleaner with Mitie Cleaning and Environmental Services for over 10 years.  

She is a native Spanish speaker from Colombia and a former member of a mainstream union and who felt that her issues at work were not being addressed correctly.

She expressed that, “they (her former union) didn’t really have anyone who spoke my language and an interpreter was not something which was offered at any point so I believed that my problems at work would not be addressed correctly due to the language barriers between me and my union”.

When she asked to cancel her membership, she was asked why she wanted to cancel, to which she responded, “if you can’t understand me, you cannot help me.”

Anacelli came to UVW after the situation at her workplace became unsustainable.

Anacelli’s concern were many, these included issues with the way her managers treated her, unpaid overtime and religious discrimination. With the support of UVW, a grievance was sent to her employer.

Mitie attempted to sweep Anacelli’s concerns under the carpet.

However, at UVW we do not take “No” for an answer, so we did what we know how to do very well, we persisted. 

After several emails and telephone conversations with the bosses, Anacelli was finally invited for a meeting with a senior manager to raise her concerns. 

On the day of the meeting, Anacelli was very nervous. 

She spoke of what she hoped would happen in the meeting and her hopes and dreams and once again mention to me her dream, which was a recurring topic in our conversations, of buying a home. 

She told me it was this dream that was also the catalyst for her decision to seek help from her trade union. 

Despite her reluctance to speak in English due to her fear of being misunderstood or worse not understood at all, with my support as her trade union representative, Anacelli gave a very eloquent account of events that had taken place.  Through floods of tears, she challenged the bosses and she asked why she was treated the way she was.

Many of her colleagues were scared of what Anacelli was doing and asked why she would, as a cleaner, want to “mess with the people above you”. 

Her colleagues believed there could be reprisals. This statement was not inaccurate.

Anacelli however, believes that “we are all important” regardless of job title and about her managers felt that “she is the manager but she is not more important than God”.

With UVW’s support, Anacelli persisted with her fight and regularly raised concerns in writing of any mistreatment at her workplace. 

Her persistence and fighting spirit culminated in a massive investigation of her managers.

Currently, Anacelli works with a new manager whom she said, “was God sent”.

Anacelli has also received a pay rise that she fought so much to get and, in March 2020, Anacelli and her husband finally realised their dream and bought a home.

Anacelli still looks the same on the outside, still very polite, friendly and cheerful, however, on the inside, she is a new Anacelli, one who is fulfilled for she now has a voice at work and she now feels valued.


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