Emanuel Gomes died of suspected COVID-19 whilst cleaning the Ministry of Justice HQ in London
Emanuel was a cleaner at the Ministry of Justice who tragically passed away from suspected COVID-19 on April 23, at around 10.30pm. In the 5 days leading up to his death his he had an incredibly high fever, was delirious, and had not eaten. He should have taken time off work to rest and seek medical treatment but both his direct employer OCS and the Ministry of Justice refused to pay his wages if he missed a days work due to illness - even due to COVID-19. They also refused to pay him a living wage and only paid him £9.08 an hour.
For fear he would be unable to pay his rent, buy food or support his family if he lost his wages, Emanuel felt left with no choice but to continue working without even being provided with a face mask at the MoJ and having to take cramped public transport. He worked until the day before he died. His death was reported in the Guardian here.
Emanuel’s death is a tragedy and a scandal and was entirely avoidable. Had he received a wage that allowed him to save a little and a sick pay scheme that allowed him to actually take sick leave he may still be with us today.
Now we are mourning his death and his family need support.
Who was Emanuel?
Emanuel was born in Guinea Bissau and moved to Portugal in his later years. In 2018, after finding himself unemployed and unable to support his family he made the gut-wrenching decision to leave behind his wife and children and come to London so that he could provide a life for them.
Emanuel was much loved by his colleagues. They describe him as a kind, committed and hard-working man who would always arrive early to work and help anyone he could on and off the job. They also describe him as utterly devoted to his family and that he would send them whatever little money he had.
Emanuel's fight against In-justice at the Ministry of Justice
Emanuel knew the danger of not getting a proper sick pay scheme and the life threatening position that might one day put him, and which he tragically ended up finding himself in.
That's why he and his colleagues at the The Ministry of Justice courageously took several days of strike action since 2018 in order to express how important sick pay was to them. He also went on strike to be paid the London Living Wage (LLW) so he could make ends meet here and provide more support for his family back home. You can hear his colleagues talk about why they felt the need to go on strike here.
The LLW he was asking for at the point of his death was only £10.75 per hour compared to his salary of £9.08 per hour. When he first started work at Ministry of Justice he was earning only £7.50 per hour. It was only due to his courage in taking strike action that his wages increased to £9.08 an hour, but that still fell very short of the living wage he so desperately needed.
Emanuel’s family want to repatriate his body to Guinea Bissau and hold a proper funeral for him there. But this incredibly expensive and they do not have the money to do it. They are in a very difficult financial situation because they depended on Emanuel’s salary to get by.
Your donation would cover the:
1) the cost of repatriating Emanuel's body to Guinea Bissau
2) costs of his funeral
3) support his family financially at this difficult time
This fundraise is being organised by Emanuel's trade union, United Voices of the World, who are committed to holding OCS and the MoJ to account for Emanuel's death. And committed to fighting to ensure Emanuel's colleagues receive the London Living Wage, occupational sick pay and proper PPE so that they can avoid the same tragic fate as Emanuel.
Please help us get justice for Emanuel.