Union urges Goldman Sachs to intervene after dismissal of contractor

The Unite union has called on Goldman Sachs to intervene in the dismissal of a catering worker from the investment bank’s Fleet Street office in London.

The union is protesting against what it described as the unfair dismissal of a long-serving member of staff by Aramark, the catering contractor at the Fleet Street site.

Unite claims that the dismissal was an act of victimisation in retaliation for the worker speaking out about potential ongoing discrimination against black and ethnic minority workers since Aramark took over the Goldman Sachs contract in September 2008.

Dave Turnbull, Unite officer, said the union has “serious concerns” about potential discrimination by Aramark at Goldman Sachs.

“Goldman Sachs must intervene, as its contractor has failed to apply the standards it sets for its own employees in terms of equality and diversity,” he said.

“Goldman Sachs must conduct its own investigation into this potential act of unlawful victimisation on its premises, as well as into the overall running of the catering contract.”

The formal response from Aramark to questionnaires submitted by Unite members at the Goldman Sachs unit reveal that:

  • Despite the fact that a number of black workers have been made redundant since Aramark took over the contract and were subsequently told that no alternative positions were available to them, the total number of workers employed in the unit has increased by 25, from 194 to 219.
  • During the same period, the total number of ethnic minority workers has decreased from 94 to 88 while the number of white workers has increased from 100 to 131.
  • Taken separately, the number of black/Afro-Caribbean workers employed has fallen from 54 to 44. (These figures do not take into account this specific dismissal and other staff dismissed or leaving the company since May 2010).
  • Since taking over the contract, Aramark has engaged 52 new starters from ethnic minority backgrounds and 138 white workers. For the ethnic diversity of workers to be identically proportionate to when the company took over the contract, the balance of new starters would have to have been 91 ethnic minority workers to 99 white workers.
  • Of 32 managerial positions in the unit, 29 are held by white employees and only three by ethnic minority staff.

In a statement, Aramark said: “We are strongly committed to diversity, and our hiring practices demonstrate our goal to be a place where the best people want to work – people from all backgrounds, perspectives and experiences. We are open to discussions with Unite, in the interest of our continued relationship.”

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