[Debate] Fw: SOAS directorate block occupied over brutal deportation of SOAS cleaners
m_redmond at btinternet.com
m_redmond at btinternet.com
Mon Jun 15 14:40:16 BST 2009
For Freedom of Movement for all, not only the super-rich.Megan.--- On Mon, 15/6/09, John O <ncadc at ncadc.org.uk> wrote:
From: John O <ncadc at ncadc.org.uk>
Subject: SOAS directorate block occupied over brutal deportation of SOAS cleaners
Date: Monday, 15 June, 2009, 1:13 PM
SOAS directorate block occupied over brutal
To Detention list:
SOAS directorate block occupied over brutal deportation of
Emergency Rally called for
Speakers to be confirmed ~ All
SOAS steps ~4.30pm ~ Many staff
will also be there.
University cleaners who won living wage detained after dawn
Students and allies at the University of London's School of School
of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) have occupied the university
today to protest against managers' attacks on migrant workers.
Nine cleaners from the university were taken into detention after a
dawn raid by immigration police on Friday.
Five have already been deported, and the others could face deportation
within days. One has had a suspected heart attack and was denied
access to medical assistance and even water. One was over 6 months
pregnant. Many have families who have no idea of their
The cleaners won the London Living Wage and trade union representation
after a successful "Justice for Cleaners" campaign that united
workers of all backgrounds and student activists.
Activists believe the raid is managers' "revenge" for the
Immigration officers were called in by cleaning contractor ISS, even
though it has employed many of the cleaners for years. Cleaning staff
were told to attend an 'emergency staff meeting' at 6.30am on
Friday (June 12).
This was used as a false pretext to lure the cleaners into a closed
space from which the immigration officers were hiding to arrest
More than 40 officers were dressed in full riot gear and aggressively
undertook interrogations and then escorted them to the detention
centre. Neither legal representation nor union support were present
due to the secrecy surrounding the action. Many were unable to
communicate let alone fully understand what was taking place due to
the denial of interpreters.
SOAS management were complicit in the immigration raid by enabling the
officers to hide in the meeting room beforehand and giving no warning
The cleaners were interviewed one by one. They were allowed no legal
or trade union representation, or even a translator (many are native
The cleaners are members of the Unison union at SOAS. They recently
went out on strike (Thursday 28 May) to protest the sacking of cleaner
and union activist Jose Stalin Bermudez.
The occupation has issued a list of demands to SOAS
1. We call on
the directorate to request the secretary of state to immediately
release the detainees and to prevent the deportation of the three
cleaners who are still in detention in the UK.
2. For the
directorate to release a public statement condemning what has happened
to the SOAS cleaners and calling for their immediate release and
campaign for the return of the cleaners who have already been
4. To bring
all contract staff in house. SOAS should not use contractors, ISS or
5. To keep
immigration officers from entering campus under ANY circumstances or
other forms of collaboration with immigration or police. Universities
are for education not for state violence and oppression.
6. A year's
wage as reparations for all detained and deported staff.
7. To hold
accountable SOAS managers who were complicit in facilitating the raid
and detention of the cleaners, refusing to aid a sick worker and a
reinstate Jose Stalin Bermudez, the SOAS UNISON branch
9. To respect
the right to organise in Trade Unions unimpeded.
10. To provide
space and resources for a public meeting to build support for the SOAS
9 and other migrants, in education and beyond, affected by immigration
control and racism.
11. Amnesty for all
One of the detained cleaners today stated, "We're honest
people not animals. We are just here to earn an honest living for our
families. SOAS management are being unfair."
Joanne, one of the occupying students said,
"Universities should be sanctuaries: places free of violence and
aggression. SOAS's reputation as a university has been tainted today
due to the complicity of state brutality in the arrest of the
Graham Dyer, lecturer in Economics of Developing Countries and
SOAS branch chair of lecturers' union UCU, said: "Our fight has
united lecturers, staff and students and has rocked SOAS management.
Those managers are now lashing out. It is a disgrace that SOAS
management saw fit to use a seat of learning to intimidate migrant
workers. This is their underhand revenge and we will do all we can to
stop migrant workers paying the price."
The campaign to stop the deportation is supported by Tony Benn,
MPs John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn, film director Ken Loach, and
many trade unionists and student activists.
John McDonnell MP said: "As living wage campaigns are building
in strength, we are increasingly seeing the use of immigration
statuses to attack workers fighting against poverty wages and break
trade union organising. The message is that they are happy to employ
migrant labour on poverty wages, but if you complain they will send
you back home. It is absolutely shameful."
Ken Loach said: "This raid is the action of a bully. Migrant
workers are amongst the most vulnerable - poorly paid and far from
home. Recent action by Unison to secure better wages and conditions at
SOAS was good news. Now we wonder if the SOAS cleaners are being
targeted because they dared to organise as trade unionists."
The current occupation is a reflection of broad outrage against
these actions by all sectors of society. This raid is widely seen as a
continuation of current trends to remove immigrant labour and to
maintain impossibly low wages.
Cleaning contractor ISS used the same tactics against tube
cleaners that went on strike with the result that key activists were
deported. The use of immigration law is being used for union
contact: Clare Solomon on 079 5803 4181
Email: freesoascleaners at googlemail.com
Posted by freesoascleaners at 02:40
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