Saturday, November 18, 2006

Life is Cheap

A horrific story on the front page of this week's South London Press (17.11.2006), which for some reason isn't on their website at present:

A corpse was left rotting for weeks after council officials failed to help a man living in a cleaning cupboard, it was claimed today. The man, an immigrant from Togo known as Atayi, was found after residents reported a sickening smell. Police went to a cupboard used to store cleaning products at Perronet House in Elephant & Castle at 12.15pm on Wednesday. After smashing down the door officers found the body of the man, in his late 40s. Cops at the scene told people living on the second floor the man was thought to have been dead for at least three weeks.

People who live in Perronet House told the South London Press Atayi had been working in the block but lived rough so he could send as much money as possible back to his wife and children in Togo. Early reports suggest he died from carbon monoxide poisoning - it is believed as a result of cooking on a camping stove - but a full post-mortem is expected today. Questions are being asked of Southwark Council after claims they had been told the man was squatting in the 8ft by 4ft cupboard as long ago as May but failed to act. It is said that Atayi worked as cleaner for the council and was therefore able to get past security doors at Perronet House....."

Although this an extreme case, it is indicative of the conditions of migrant workers in London today, people who may be branded as 'illegal' and denied rights such as access to healthcare, but who are relied on to the dirty jobs that nobody else wants to do. People who work as low paid cleaners in every office in town, paid a pittance and making profits for multi-national cleaning firms like ISS. If you feel the urge to do more than sigh and turn away, you might want to check out the Justice for Cleaners campaign which is organsing two weeks of action in support of ISS cleaners next week. This isn't just a London issue either, check out the current Justice for Janitors strike in Houston, Texas.

1 comment:

RUINIST said...

yes! that's exactly what I thought about this awful story....see you on the pickets...justice for cleaners!!!