Archive for soas

SOAS cleaners update

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on Sunday, 5 July, 2009 by bristolnoborders

SOAS cleaners update

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/07/433893.html

More news is emerging of just how dehumanising and brutal have been the effects of the immigration raids at SOAS organised by external contractor ISS shortly after the cleaners won union recognition and pay rises to the level of the London living wage.

One of the UNISON members picked up, who was traumatised by the clandestine nature of the raid and the appearance of around 40 officers in full body armour, arrived back in Bogota, 48 hours after the raid, wearing the same clothes she was arrested in and with 75pence in her pocket. Disorientated and distressed, she was simply dumped in Bogota—hundreds of miles from her home town without any concern as to how she could get back to her family.

Another of the nine, Rosa Perez, was deported on Tuesday 30th without being given the 72 hours notice that is required—she had no chance to say goodbye to workmates who had been visiting her in detention or to receive the collections that SOAS staff had been making to help with her return.

One of the nine, Marina Silva, remains in detention at Yarlswood—where detainees are on hunger strikes and other forms of protest because of the appalling conditions and the decision to freeze their bank accounts, which contain all the wages earned at hard jobs like cleaning or fruit picking. Marina, who is 63, has claimed asylum because her husband was murdered in an honour killing at home and she was threatened until she left. Having lost the breadwinner and in fear, Marina eventually came to live and work in the UK a few years ago. She is very frightened in Yarlswood where her detention disrupted medical tests.

They are joined inside by other workers who have been set up in a similar way. In one case at the Picadiily Backpacker hotel in London on June 17, six members of staff were trapped by UKBA on the sixth floor. The five men were taken away and made to sign a document without understanding it. They were then deported without being able to take any possessions, access their money or contact their families. The remaining worker is at Yarls Wood.

ACTION POINTS

1. Please send urgent faxes immediately to Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP, Secretary of State for the Home Office asking that Marina Silva is released from detention and given permission to remain in the UK. Please use the “model letter” at
http://freesoascleaners.blogspot.com/2009/06/send-this-letter-to-home-office-now.html

You can copy/amend this or write your own version. (No Home Office reference numbers but fax anyway).

Fax: 020 8760 3132 / + 44 20 8760 3132 if you are faxing from outside UK)

Emails: Privateoffice.external@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

UKBApublicenquiries@UKBA.gsi.gov.uk

“CIT – Treat Official” CITTO@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

2. Ring your MP and express your concern for these individuals and ask them to pass on the message to Alan Johnson. You can get your MPs details from http://www.theyworkforyou.com or ring 020 7219 3000 and ask for their office. Your MP can ask a question about this or can lay down an early day motion.

3. Ask your trade union branch/faith group/community association etc to also take action

Any faxes/E-mails sent to Alan Johnson or to your union branch/faith group/community association:

Please copy to SOAS UNISON, fax: 020 7898 4039. or an2@soas.ac.uk

Calais: Site and Workshops Announced

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on Wednesday, 17 June, 2009 by bristolnoborders
camp2_fused

Camp Site

Defy the rise of racism ! Come to the Calais No Borders Camp 23-29 June

With deportations of migrants (SOAS), attacks on Romanians in Northern Ireland and the rise of the elected neo-fascists, we make a last call for all those who are wondering whether to come to Calais.

Workshops range from practical workshops for migrants to developing our politics and networks, as well as medical and legal workshops.

Workshop Programme

Directions and other site details

We now even have the obligatory denouncement and misrepresentation in the Daily Mail.

FREE THE SOAS CLEANERS!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on Monday, 15 June, 2009 by bristolnoborders

SOAS directorate block occupied over brutal deportation of SOAS cleaners

Occupation of SOAS

Occupation of SOAS

University cleaners who won living wage detained after dawn raid

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 whereabouts.

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 campaign.

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 them.

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 to them.

The cleaners were interviewed one by one. They were allowed no legal or trade union representation, or even a translator (many are native Spanish speakers).

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 management:

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 return.
3. To campaign for the return of the cleaners who have already been deported.
4. To bring all contract staff in house. SOAS should not use contractors, ISS or others.
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 pregnant woman.
8. To reinstate Jose Stalin Bermudez, the SOAS UNISON branch chair.
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 those involved.

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 cleaners.”

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 bering used for union busting.

contact: Clare Solomon on 07958 034 181
Email: freesoascleaners@googlemail.com
Blog: freesoascleaners.blogspot.com