On 22nd Septemer Boguslaw Modzonek was sacked from the six star Marriott/Grosvenor Hotel in Park Lane, allegedly because his papers were not in order. The regulations on papers are wilfully obscure, which suits the bosses fine. Boggy was really dismissed because he was an active trade unionist and was casting a bright light on some dark and dodgy management practices.
He campaigned on two sets of issues: the unhygienic and downright disgusting conditions in which food was prepared and the way the workers were treated. The underground kitchen is unventilated. Food is prepared right next to the washing up facilities and the machine for crushing and recycling glass. Since water drips from the roof, the pots that are being washed under the drips are not actually being disinfected. Workers are surrounded by open drains and pipes. The kitchen is crawling with vermin. Despite the fact that most of our readers could not afford to eat there, food is recycled to save money. This means that uneaten meat is scraped from one diner’s plate and served up to another unwary customer.
Health and Safety
Workers are treated as badly as the diners. Boggy was campaigning for unsocial hours payment, for the right for waiters and other staff to benefit from the tips that people leave for them, and for overtime to be paid at overtime rates – which is the case elsewhere in the Hotel. For him it was a simple matter of respect. He is right.
Seeing that management were resisting these moderate demands, Boguslaw realised he needed the power of the union behind him. He joined the GMB Hotel and Catering Branch.
Boggy was sacked alongside other migrant workers. Unlike them, he was not re-employed via the Cover Start agency. This shows that this is a case of trade union victimisation. Boggy had originally been employed via the agency. He impressed the management, who put him directly on their books. It is his very conscientiousness which has made him a threat to management who neglect both hygiene procedures and workers’ rights and health and safety.
Boguslaw went through an internal disciplinary and appeals procedure. This proved to be a farce and he stayed sacked at the end of it. He is determined to fight on. The union is taking his case to an Employment Tribunal. We think he has an excellent case. If he wins, that will be a green light to all the disaffected migrant workers existing in appalling conditions in the hotels and hospitality trade.
The way Boggy has been treated is all too typical of the way millions of migrant workers are being treated in this country in the twenty-first century. Employers take advantage of their unfamiliarity with the English language and with the doors that do remain open to them to pursue their grievances. Boguslaw has held his head up high in spite of all the problems. The British labour movement has a basic duty to workers like him to back them to the hilt and make sure they are not super-exploited. It is a simple matter of solidarity.