Sunday, 28 June 2009
Friday, 26 June 2009
Thanks Reel News-what great timing.
If you not on facebook, leave your name and number of people below in the comments.
On 12th June cleaners at Soas were rounded up by immigration officials at an early morning meeting.
9 people were detained consequently 5 have been deported, one was over 6 months pregnant and one has had a heart attack and received absolutely no medical assistance not even water.
SOAS students, staff and supporters occupied the Directors offices from 10am.
We filmed the whole thing. We want you to show you what we did and will answer questions and discuss where next for the campaign.
Start up your own campaign. If this can happen at SOAS of all places it can happen anywhere. This needs to be stopped. Our fellow workmates should not be living in a state of fear.
HANDS OFF OUR WORKMATES
Including food and discussion.
PLEASE RSVP so we know how much food to prepare.
If it is raining we will transfer to our common room.
This is a truly SOAS affair-we hope you join us.
Thursday, 25 June 2009
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
|SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL AND AFRICAN STUDIES LIVING WAGE CAMPAIGN||16.06.2009|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||23 signatures|
|That this House supports the campaign, led by mainly migrant cleaners and supported by the University and College Union, Unison and the National Union of Students branches, fighting for the improved pay and conditions of School of Oriental and African Studies workers and against the victimisation of the Unison branch chair, Jose Bermudez Stalin, who was sacked earlier this year; notes with concern that after winning union recognition for cleaners working for the cleaning company ISS and on the same day as a protest calling for the reinstatement of Jose Bermudez Stalin on 12 June 2009, nine cleaners, one of whom is reported to be over six months pregnant, were taken away during a sudden immigration raid at the university; is extremely alarmed at reports that five of the nine individuals have already been deported and seeks urgent clarification of the wellbeing of all of the nine cleaners; condemns the practice of using immigration status as a means of attacking workers fighting for their rights and breaking union organisation; and reaffirms the principle of the right of all workers to a living wage and to be active within a free and independent trade union.|
Sunday, 21 June 2009
Saturday, 20 June 2009
* Support for Marina and Rosa who are still in detention
* Picketing ISS and the Home Office
* Making the campaign massive at the start of term
Notes of points made and ideas for next steps have now been uploaded to the freesoascleaners googlegroup if you want to have a read.
Anyone can join this google group (apart from ISS and bosses!) to discuss how we take things forward. Click here to sign up and if you don't want to be deluged with loads of emails in your inbox, set it to abridged or web-only!
Campaign Against Immigration Controls are holding a campaign planning public meeting at SOAS at 2pm today. Come along if you can. Details here.
1) Relocate a 30 year old woman with epilepsy. She is not receiving medical attention and suffers from convulsions constantly. She is lying on the floor most of the time. The other inmates don’t help her as they do not want to make a fatal mistake.
2) Resolve the situation of a 5 months pregnant woman, who was arrested two months ago and who is extremely sick. She stays in bed all day and does not receive medical attention.
3) Resolve the situation of almost 20 children (between 5 months and 2 years old). They are with their mothers and able to play with other kids, but they are showing clear signs of tension, pressure, distress and anxiety. Some women have been detained for more than two months and the children can’t understand the situation.
4) Talk to the Immigration Officer, Sarah (no surname supplied), who must listen these requests. (Sarah’s name was suggested by the Serco’s manager).
5) Adequate access to health care, quality food and real privacy.
6) Restore the communications between Juliette Umoru and her husband Steve, who is not allowed to talk to her.
Show your solidarity with the strikers. Take 20 minutes to do the following:
* Contact SERCO (who run Yarl’s Wood) and demand that the strikers’ demands are met - (0)1344 386300 - firstname.lastname@example.org
* Contact Yarl’s Wood and demand that the strikers demands are met: The duty manager 01234 821517; The switchboard 01234 821000; Health'care' 01234 821147
* Contact Alaister Burt MP for Yarls Wood - email@example.com
* Forward this news to any email lists you are on or press contacts you have
* If you can donate towards credit for detainees’ mobiles or travel costs for solidarity visits, email firstname.lastname@example.org and a few of us will bring it up when we visit on Sunday
Read more here and a BBC Blog here.
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Show SOAS management that attention hasn't been taken off them and stand witness on the site where 9 cleaners were take into detention and others forced to go underground a week previously.
After the rally there will be music and food to celebrate solidarity and resistance and carry on discussions about how to build the campaign!
On Saturday, join Campaign Against Immigration Controls at SOAS for a meeting to discuss how to build the wider campaign of migrant worker struggle and against immigration controls - 2pm-5pm, G50. Details here: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2009/06/432527.html
We feel management took our concerns seriously and are confident that the way in which these negotiations were carried out has produced a constructive and positive outcome
We have tried to work so that the demands agreed include the main concerns of the cleaners who were affected by this disgraceful raid and who have provided confidence to this campaign which will have an effect wider than just our school.
These are as follows:
1.SOAS management to write to the Home Secretary requesting exceptional leave to remain for the cleaner who is still being detained and for those who have been forced into hiding, and immediate return of those who have been deported.
2.Open discussions with ISS, UCU, UNISON and the Students' Union to review in detail the events of last Friday.
3.Issue of outsourced cleaning services to be revisited at the next Governing Body.
4.Meet with above unions to discuss health & Safety issues relating to immigration raids.
5.Amnesty for all those involved.
We are pleased that management called for regularisation for non-documented workers and hope that this provides extra and crucial voices to the campaign for papers for all migrant workers.
In the SOAS strategy and Vision document management state that they are
'poised to become the University of the 21st century: it is concerned with the regions that matter and the issues that matter (such as human rights, poverty reduction and globalisation).' (“SOAS 2016: A Vision and Strategy for the Centennial”, p5 )
That the directorate is disturbed by the possible role that ISS played in this raid demonstrates to us that the school are committed to upholding their further Centennial Goals of
“maintain[ing] the highest ethical standards in all of its dealings and foster the values of openness, honesty, tolerance, fairness and responsibility in all areas.” (SOAS 2016: A Vision and Strategy for the Centennial, p9)
We will work hard to ensure that this sentiment is translated into concrete action which ensures that cleaning is brought in-house and management never again facilitate an immigration raid on campus.
We are honoured to have been able to stand side by side with the cleaners at SOAS who have inspired us with their fight to organise in a union. The strength they have shown demands solidarity in return in this important struggle.
Our fight to ensure that employers and the Government do not use the threat of deportation to intimidate workers and prevent them from fighting to improve pay and conditions and trade union recognition has brought together people from all backgrounds.
Although these are a important victories so far they are more symbolic than practical. The home secretary has only signed papers to stop the removal or deportation of an individual when 80% of the Isle of Man signed a petition calling him to do so. SOAS now has a common goal, this must be used to further lobby for the cleaners in hiding, those that were already sent back to their countries of origin and those still held in deportation centres.
This campaign is grateful and encouraged by the tremendous response from activists from across the world, from media, politicians, academics, from family and from Palestinian universities who were the focus of the previous round of occupations earlier this year, and is inspired by the solidarity from other cleaner activists across London.
We are strengthened in this struggle for a united cause and urge everybody to start a campaign in their own workplace or institution safe in the knowledge that they are not alone. That united we stand, divided we fall.
Letter to Home office: http://freesoascleaners.blogspot.com/2009/06/send-this-letter-to-home-office-now.html
Academic support: http://freesoascleaners.blogspot.com/2009/06/academic-solidarity-statement-on-soas.html
Write to the Home Office to try to prevvent deportation: http://freesoascleaners.blogspot.com/2009/06/urgent-contact-home-office-now-and.html
Rt Honourable Alan Johnson, MP
Secretary of State for the Home Office
3rd Floor, Peel Buildings
2 Marsham St, London SW1 4DF
Fax: 020 8760 3132
Dear Home Secretary
I am writing to ask you to grant leave to remain, with the right to work, to the SOAS cleaners, Marina Silva, who has claimed asylum and Rosa de Perez who are currently being held in Yarl’s Wood IRC. We are deeply concerned that five of their colleagues were deported within 48 hours of the raid on SOAS, without any chance to put their case for being granted the right to stay and in some cases breaking up family relationships.
Marina and Rosa are two of the nine cleaners who were arrested in a raid by around 40 officers of the Border Agency on Friday 12th June 2009, on campus at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). They are charged with overstaying visas—but both women have had good reasons to enter the UK and an urgent need to work to support themselves and their families. Both have worked hard for ISS, a company that is notorious for exploiting migrant labour, for low wages.
Marina is sixty-three years old. She is from Bolivia and her husband was killed in an honour killing after which she was threatened and harassed until she was forced to leave her home. She has been living in the UK for several years and has made a life here. She is ill and was due a hospital appointment on the day of the raid. She has now made an application to stay to be safe and to live in dignity in the UK. These women are not criminals, they are hard working people on low pay who have worked to pay their bills and support their family in the dirty and undignified job as a cleaner. I believe that they should not be treated as criminals.
While Rosa has not sought to resist removal, she will be returned to extreme poverty in Nicaragua and will be unable to support her family—having four children who in the economic crisis of her home country have no other means of support. She will be unemployed when returned. She is in urgent need of the compassion to allow her, now she is here, the ability to stay and to work to support her children and I would ask for a work permit to allow her to continue to work, but in dignity.
While I recognize that their overstay was unlawful, the manner of their detainment at SOAS was shockingly aggressive, disproportionate, deceiving and unnecessary. The cleaning company, which employs the cleaners, ISS, had collaborated with the UK Border Agency to arrest the workers through the pretence of an “emergency staff meeting” at 6.30am on Friday 12th June. Once 40 officers, dressed in riot gear, were hidden around the meeting and managers barred exit during the first part of the meeting before the immigration officers pounced on workers. The SOAS campus was sealed off while workers were locked in a room, and then questioned one by one in an adjacent room. Union representatives trying to bring water and aid to their members—including a woman more than six months pregnant—were denied access and not allowed to provide any legal aid for their members, who should have had the right to a solicitor.
I am very concerned about these workers who were employed by ISS, a company that had just been forced to grant union recognition and to pay the London Living Wage to its cleaners working in SOAS. I am especially concerned that the raid took place on the very morning on which cleaners were to rally in support of their sacked UNISON trade union branch chair, who was also an ISS employee. Rosa and Maria are just two of the thousands of migrant workers, refugee and asylum seekers who make a valuable contribution to our society. Like so many who work unsocial hours for low pay, they are making a valuable contribution to society, and they should not be punished and hunted like criminals for this.
I am deeply concerned at what appears to be UKBA officials being used to discipline workers in the process of unionising and appeal for permission to stay and work to be granted to the SOAS workers. All of these people are working and supporting themselves as well as paying taxes and national insurance contributions. You will be aware of the research which shows the greater than average economic contribution of working migrants who are single and without dependents in the UK.
I therefore urge you to: --Release Marina and Rosa on bail immediately and give consideration to our appeal for a grant of leave to remain to these workers. In Marina’s case to grant humanitarian protection ~ in Rosa’s case to grant a work visa. --To allow those SOAS cleaners who have been deported to renter the country for reasons of family reunion and to work. --To make clear that no person should be raided and held in such a way in the future, without water, medicine or the right to be seen by representatives wishing to provide legal assistance. I would welcome an urgent response as these workers have only days before removal directions. I look forward to hearing from you on the matters I have raised above.
City: Postcode: Country:
Date: Email: Phone:
We have only days to get the message to Alan Johnson, MP Secretary of State for the Home Office, who has the power to intervene and save our cleaners.
1. Please send urgent faxes immediately to Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP,Secretary of State for the Home Office asking that Marina Silva, and Rosa de Perez, are released from detention and given permission to remain in the UK. Please use the attached "model letter" (CleanersAJ.doc) which you can copy/amend/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)
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 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 email@example.com
Our revised list of demands (unfortunately our computer had a trojan horse which meant we lost the document that we had worked hard on to word water tight so had to re-write it again late last night. We hope the school take it on face value based on the general gist and dont conitune to provaricate over the odd incorrectly worded statement.)
This morning the school responded by saying no to all of them except number
To the SOAS Directorate
SOAS students campaigning in protest against the recent, violent immigration raid that took place on SOAS premises on the morning of 12th June 2009 have occupied the rooms of the SOAS directorate to underscore the seriousness of the matter at hand. The occupying students agree to leave the premises should the below demands be met by the SOAS directorate. We understand that informally the directorship has already agreed to most of these demands pending certain conditions, which have been included in this document.
1. We call on the directorate to request the home secretary to immediately grant exceptional leave to remain to those cleaners who want it, including those detained and those already deported. We demand that in this regard a letter is to be received by the home secretary’s office by midday 17th June 2009. (Answer: Yes but only as soon as is practical ie once the directorate office is vacated-this iis outrageous. They should have done this ANYWAY)
2. We demand that the directorate publish a formal public statement apologising for their role in facilitating the immigration raid and for not informing the relevant unions (UNISON/UCU/SOAS Student Union). This should be published by midday 17th June 2009.
3. We want an assurance from the directorate that from today, it will not to invite or negotiate in advance entry for immigration officers. We further demand that should SOAS directorate receive notification that an immigration raid is imminent, the directorate should inform the relevant unions (UNISON/UCU/SOAS student union) and discuss with them in regards to the legal issues surrounding the facilitation of immigration raids on SOAS premises. This point should become a part of general SOAS policy. (Answer: NO-illegal)
4. We request that an agenda item be tabled at the next scheduled board of governers meeting to discuss whether all contracted staff should be brought in-house, as a result of the recent news regarding the actions of ISS. We demand that Proffesor Paul Webley, the director of SOAS, should propose and support the view that all SOAS contracted staff should be brought in-house.
(Yes but only cleaning staff)
5. We request an amnesty for all those involved in the occupation of the rooms of the SOAS directorate. (Yes but only if 1) no damage 2) nothing has been read or removed)
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Our Values are the foundation for all we do. They are shaped and cast through over 100 years of ISS history and they continue to guide us more than anything else. Our values are:
Honesty - we respect
Our honesty is not negotiable. We respect our customers, our colleagues and our company – honesty comes first.
Entrepreneurship - we act
Action speaks louder than words. All our employees have a ‘licence to act’ and are expected to do so.
Responsibility - we care
Indifference is immoral. We care about what we do and how we do it.
Many of us are former and current PhD students and staff at SOAS or affiliated with SOAS, researching and teaching in the field of Development Studies.
We note that the SOAS cleaners were one of the first groups of university cleaners to win union recognition in a notoriously exploitative industry that runs on cheap labour drawn from the poorest parts of the planet, and believe that the SOAS immigration raid was intended to intimidate other agency workers struggling for the right of union representation and decent living conditions. That this should happen on the premises of a British university is shameful enough. But it is a total disgrace that the raid took place at an institution actively recruiting students from around the world on the basis of its reputation as a leading centre for the study of global justice, human rights and racial tolerance.
We note too that this raid came at a time when the government is forcing university teachers to spy on the immigration status of their students and colleagues, effectively turning us into an arm of the UK Borders Agency. SOAS should be actively resisting the Government’s racist immigration policy, not using the most brutal side of it to enforce labour discipline. Clearly a section of the SOAS management cannot escape the School’s colonial past.
We finally note that the aggressive outsourcing strategy, which allowed a company like ISS to take over the School’s cleaning functions, is a consequence of the wider marketisation of Higher Education that has turned students into ‘consumers’, academic research into an exercise in market competition, and junior academics into low-paid, casualised and insecure teaching fodder. We therefore see the SOAS cleaner’s fight as our fight and stand shoulder to shoulder with them.
We demand that the deportations are halted, the affected cleaners reinstated, cleaning and all other outsourced functions bought back in house, and the SOAS managers responsible for this vicious attack on union and immigrant rights, which has left an indelible stain on the whole School’s reputation, dismissed.
Gavin Capps, Former PhD student, SOAS and HMWDRS (Historical Materialism World Development Research Seminar Group)
Ben Selwyn, Lecturer, Sussex University and HMWDRS
Alessandra Mezzadri, Lecturer, SOAS and HMWDRS
Satoshi Miyamura, Lecturer, SOAS and HMWDRS
Liam Campling, PhD Candidate, SOAS and HMWDRS
Demet Dinler, Teaching Fellow, SOAS and HMWDRS
Graham Dyer, Lecturer, SOAS
David Seddon, Former Lecturer at SOAS, currently Professorial Fellow at the UEA
Saurabh Gupta, Teaching Fellow, SOAS
Saloni Gupta, Teaching Fellow, SOAS
Dave Rampton, Teaching Fellow, SOAS
Tony Kahane, Teaching Fellow, SOAS
Giuseppe Caruso, Teaching Fellow, SOAS
Gonzalo Pozo-Martin, Teaching Fellow, SOAS
Peter Thomas, Editor, Historical Materialism, SOAS
Sebastian Budgen, Editor, Historical Materialism, SOAS
Antigoni Memou, Editor, Historical Materialism, SOAS
Robert Knox, Editor, Historical Materialism, SOAS
Alf Nilsen, Lecturer, University of Bergen
Patrick Bond, Senior Professor, University of KwaZulu-Natal School of Development Studies, Durban, South Africa
Caroline O’Reilly, Former SOAS student, Johannesburg
Leo Zeilig, Lecturer, Former SOAS student, University of Witswatersrand, South Africa
Miles Larmer, Lecturer, University of Sheffield
Peter Dwyer, Ruskin College, Oxford
URGENT CALL OUT for people to contact Home Office calling for exceptional leave to remain for all the SOAS 9 who want it - model letter COMING SOON - check back here!
Slavoj Zizek and others available to speak.
Bring banners and people and musical instrument.
Tomorrow is the last day of term. Wouldn't it be great to end the year with a clear demonstration that this fight is growing and will continue?
Negotiations with SOAS Director have resumed. Threat of eviction lifted for now. Rally at SOAS steps at 4:30pm
Meet for the planned Demonstration today at 4:30pm at SOAS steps.
Thanks. Get down here.
Try to resist the bailiffs / police at the doors.
Demonstration / rally on steps of SOAS will still go ahead as planned at 4:30pm today.
London’s Green Party Member of the European Parliament
Immediate release: 16 June 2009
Jean Lambert MEP has written to the Home Office today after it emerged that
five of the SOAS cleaners arrested on Friday 12 June were removed from the
UK over the weekend.
Jean has asked the Home Office to clarify the procedures that immigration
officers are expected to follow, after details of the detention and arrest
of the staff emerged.
Those close to the situation have explained that cleaners were summoned at
6.30am on Friday to attend what they were told was an ‘emergency staff
meeting’ – instead they found themselves in a closed space where over 40
immigration officers in full riot gear were waiting to arrest them. At the
detention centre, they were denied access to legal or union representation
and no interpreter was provided, so that many of them, as native Spanish
speakers, were unable to communicate. It is believed that immigration
officers were called in by ISS, the cleaning contractor, even though it has
employed many of these staff for years.
It has emerged that six cleaners have been removed and others could face
removal within days.
There are grave concerns about the health and wellbeing of those arrested:
it has emerged that one of the cleaners is six months pregnant, and another
is believed to have suffered a heart attack brought on by the ordeal. Many
of their families are unaware of their whereabouts.
On Friday Jean joined fellow Green Jenny Jones, member of the London
Assembly, in condemning the raid at SOAS . Last night, the London
Federation of Green Parties passed an emergency motion in support of the
workers. Today, [Tuesday 16 June] Jean said:
“This dawn raid was utterly deplorable – a sly, underhand action which seems
to have been calculated to cause maximum intimidation and distress. The
draconian scare tactics are all the more shameful now we learn of the
particular vulnerability of some of those arrested.
“Such raids raise fundamental questions about the status of migrant workers
and their right to dignified treatment which in this case was forcefully
denied. We need to know why and how this particular sequence of events came
about. That’s why I have written to the Home Office seeking clarification of
the procedures immigration officers are supposed to follow. I will ask ISS
and SOAS to clarify their role in this targeting of workers, many of whom
have been employed by the contractor for years. It is also imperative that
the families of those involved are told where their relatives are being
held, and remain fully informed as to their welfare and status.”
Jean also expressed solidarity with the students and activists currently
occupying SOAS in protest at the treatment the staff received from
“It is heartening to see the display of support from students and activists
at SOAS who are prepared to speak up for the rights of these workers and I
support their campaign.
“We cannot allow this raid to leave other migrant workers in London too
afraid to demand the basic employment and civil rights to which they are
entitled. We must redouble our support for those, like these workers, who
have campaigned for the rights of workers and the living wage across London.
Senate House and Edexcel UNISON branch
> Sub-contracting work out does not absolve SOAS management from moral and social responsibility for those who work in your institution. You were happy to benefit from them being paid poverty wages and now appear content to let them be attacked for their courage in standing together and fighting for a living wage.
> As public sector workers in central London we are only too aware of the role of "outsourcing" in driving down living standards and conditions for working people; that it should now be enforced by "dawn raids" is utterly unacceptable.
> A A Reid (Branch Secretary)
> Central London PCS Branch
Monday, 15 June 2009
This is completely unacceptable and we have no doubt that their supporters will be calling SOAS management and the ISS to account.
But there is a bigger game at play. Regulations on the employment of migrants in the UK have put more responsibility than ever into employers’ hands. Employers are now rewarded for turning in their own workers, often after having underpaid them and subjected them to appalling working conditions.
The cleaners at SOAS were union members. They had been successful in securing the London living wage for their work at SOAS after a hard campaign. This success could have been a chance to build trust between the workers and their bosses.
But this incident shows how the new immigration strategy undermines any possibility of building trust between workers and employers. By turning employers into immigration officials the result can only be more fear, more distrust, and more discrimination against migrant workers.
We now need to ask the policy-makers –Do you really think that targeting those workers struggling to get by without papers in the UK – those people who are doing the dirtiest, most dangerous and demeaning work in the UK, often for the lowest pay – is going to solve the problems of irregular migration in the UK? No, of course not. It’s time to demand a long-term solution that really deals with the issues they face.
The Migrants’ Rights Network stands in solidarity with the SOAS campaign for justice for these workers and for all workers trapped by government immigration policies which make them more vulnerable than ever.’
Many thanks & good luck with the demo. Please keep us posted on nay developments and also how you think we may be able to support the campaign.