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26.03.2024 / News /

Outsourced migrant cleaner sacked for trying to do her job well

“I was sacked for taking a cleaning product from one company site to another. I was simply trying to do my job well.”

Milagros Icaza, sacked cleaner and UVW member

In the surreal and ruthless world of cleaning companies in London, Milagros’ sacking must be one of the most bizarre we’ve ever encountered in UVW. Our member, originally from Peru, was summarily dismissed for taking a cleaning product from one company site to another in order to clean a stubborn stain. Nu Service sacked her for breach of health and safety, insubordination and breach of trust, even though she was simply trying to do their job well and after she apologised for her actions. She had a clean company record beforehand. 

Using cleaning products across different Nu Service sites was common practice in her experience. She had been told not to use bleach but hadn’t been given an answer regarding bringing tannin remover over from another site so she brought a bit of the cleaning liquid over in a plastic bottle. After removing the stain, she left the leftover liquid inside the cupboard with the other cleaning products – covered with a plastic glove.

“A few days later, I was called into a meeting and asked why I had brought over bleach. I told them it wasn’t bleach but tannin remover, a liquid Nu Service used at the other site. I was reprimanded because I hadn’t waited for instructions and I apologised and told them I was just trying to do my job well. But I was immediately suspended from my two jobs and eventually dismissed.”

Milagros had worked happily for Nu Service since she moved to the UK in 2021. Before the UK, she had lived in Spain for 17 years and 10 in Argentina. “I’ve spent all my life away from Peru to try and improve my life and that of my two girls” she told us. 

She worked long hours for Nu Service. “I feel terrible. I have worked so hard for them and my bosses were always happy with me because I went out of my way to help them. I’d do difficult hours to try and cover wherever they needed me, sometimes sleeping just three hours between shifts. I put my plans to go and see my family in Spain on hold for months because they couldn’t replace me. I feel like I’ve been discarded because I’m no longer wanted. It feels like a nightmare, a bad dream and I’m going to wake up from and go to work again.”  

Milagros is fighting her dismissal with UVW. “I want my job back because I liked my job and I was happy working there. I can’t understand why they have proceeded in this manner with me and they shouldn’t treat anyone like this.”  

To others she recommends: “Join a union because that’s our last line of defence. And don’t stay silent. Speak up. Name the abuses committed against us migrant workers.

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