Friday, 26 June 2009

SOAS Occupiers host EXCLUSIVE lunchtime filmshowing & food at Marxism

UPDATE: we have just been offered to launch the fully edited film covering the whole occupation courtesy of Reel News who followed us round all day and night!

Thanks Reel News-what great timing.

Please join the Facebook group if you are coming so we know how much food to prepare.
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=96483986237&ref=ts

If you not on facebook, leave your name and number of people below in the comments.

Saturday, 4th July. 1-2pm on SOAS grass.

Please join us for an outdoor filmshowing of a number of our videos and photos's. Followed by discussion, Q&A's and Equadorian food.

===================================

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

Lobby of Home Office flyer to print off and distribute

Protest outside Home Office on Tuesday, 5.30-6.30pm

Let them stay..

Our cleaners are not criminals!

Staff and students at SOAS are calling for Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for the Home Office, to grant leave to remain with permission to work for Marina Silva and Rosa dePerez, two of the SOAS cleaners picked up in a brutal immigration raid on 12thJune. Marina, who is 63 and has applied for asylum, following het brutal honour killing of her husband and threats to her own life, and Rosa, who has four children to support in Nicaragua, remain in detention following the raid. Their colleagues, including six months pregnant Luzia, were deported within 48 hours of the raid.


Cleaners at SOAS had demanded and organised for dignity at work with many joining a union. They had succeeded in winning union recognition from the privatised cleaning firm ISS and raising their pay to the London Living Wage—higher than other colleges in the area. It is of grave concern that the raid, organised by ISS, took place shortly after this campaign and on the very day on which UNISON was due to protest in support of an activist who had played a leading role in organising the cleaners at SOAS.


Please support our campaign:

Lobby the Home Office, Tuesday 30th June, 5.30-6.30pm

2 marsham st, millbank, Sw1

Sign the letter requesting leave to remain is granted to Marina and Rosa

http://freesoascleaners.blogspot.com/2009/06/send-this-letter-to-home-office-now.html

For more information go to: http://freesoascleaners.blogspot.com/

Stop the Deportation of SOAS University Cleaners!

Supported by SOAS UNISON and UCU

Call to action in solidarity with detainees at Yarl's Wood detention centre:

* JUSTICE FOR THE SOAS 9

* VICTORY TO THE HUNGER STRIKERS!

Two weeks after nine cleaners at SOAS were taken into detention, take action for justice for the SOAS 9 and in solidarity with detainees in Yarls' Wood on hunger strike for demand including: freeing children who are detained, adequate access to health care, quality food and real privacy. Hundreds of people in Yarls Wood are being denied the medical care they need including a woman with epilepsy and a 5 months' pregnant woman in the families' section. Families have been on hunger strike for over a week now and we need to show them our support!

Forward this message widely>>>>>>

SAT 27 JUNE - DAY OF ACTION IN SUPPORT OF DETAINED MIGRANTS

Morning – Action to let the Yarl’s Wood detainees know that we stand with them in opposing the injustice of immigration controls, the imprisonment of innocent people and the denial of basic access to healthcare. Call 07952 254487 for more information.

1pm – March and speak out against cuts in ESOL Teaching

Meet Bethnal Green Gardens (Next to Bethnal Green Tube) for march with UCU (University and College Union) and Tower Hamlets College students and staff, over cuts in Jobs primarily in ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages). March to Altab Ali Park, Whitechapel, for speakers and rally.

4.30 pm – Picket the Home Office's Communications House 210 Old Street, London, EC1V 9BR (1 minute from Old Street tube, 205 bus goes straight from Whitechapel)

Speak out and rally including speakers from migrant workers struggles and Yarl’s Wood.

The building looks anonymous but immigration reporting centres are places of fear for asylum seekers, who have to report to them monthly, weekly or even several times a week. They are places of detention and several SOAS Cleaners were held here on the day they were arrested.

TAKE ACTION NOW - Send messages of solidarity for the hunger strikers to:londoncoalitionaginstpoverty@gmail.com

* Contact SERCO (who run Yarl’s Wood) and demand that the strikers’ demands are met - 01344 386300 -homeaffairs@serco.com

* Contact Yarl’s Wood and demand that the strikers demands are met: The duty manager01234 821517; The switchboard is 01234 821000; Health'care' 01234 821147

* Forward news about the SOAS 9 and the hunger strike as well as this call-out to any email lists you are on or press contacts you have

* Take action to demand exceptional leave to remain for the SOAS 9: http://freesoascleaners.blogspot.com/2009/06/send-this-letter-to-home-office-now.html

* If you can donate towards credit for detainees’ mobiles or travel costs for solidarity visits, emaillondoncoalitionagainstpoverty@gmail.com

More information on SOAS 9: http://freesoascleaners.blogspot.com/

A detainee involved in the hunger strike's story: http://londonmigrantworkers.wordpress.com/

More information on the hunger strike: http://www.caic.org.uk/node/43

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Letter from SOAS Director Paul Webley

Dear colleagues

Now that we have reached an agreement with students about a way
forward in the wake of the UK Border Control visit on 12 June, it’s
important to recap and reflect on the progress we have made.

Firstly, I would like to thank all those who sent messages of support
during and after the protest. Thankfully many colleagues are aware
that the allegations being made against SOAS are untrue, most notably
that we had invited immigration officials on to our campus. This is
something that has caused a great deal of concern and anxiety to our
staff, students, stakeholders and peers.

Throughout this entire process SOAS has acted in good faith and in
accordance with the law. SOAS is obliged to co-operate with the
authorities and not breach any law that could lead to prosecution.

Following yesterday’s agreement, I have written to the Home Secretary
requesting that he grants exceptional leave to remain in the UK to
those cleaners who are still being detained. I have also asked for the
immediate return of those who have been deported and exceptional leave
to remain for those forced into hiding following Friday’s events.

I have agreed to open discussions with ISS, and separately with
UNISON, UCU and the SU, to review in detail the events of last Friday
and will discuss the possibility of bringing cleaning services
in-house at the next scheduled meeting of Governing Body. In addition
to this, colleagues will meet with the relevant unions to discuss
health and safety issues relating to immigration visits.

I plan to share my views with other university heads about the wider
implications of the Government's policy on immigration and any likely
impact it may have on our staff and students.

As Director and Principal of SOAS I will continue to work tirelessly
to ensure the success of this institution, and encourage a respectful
exchange of views in an open and constructive manner. In the light of
this week’s protest, we need to reflect and remind ourselves what it
means to be a university, in particular, an institution that prides
itself on being the home of international political debate in the UK.
The events of the past few days have done nothing more than reaffirm
my passion and commitment to this outstanding institution.

I am pleased that we reached an agreement with the protesters and I’m
grateful to the Students’ Union Co-President Nizam Uddin for
facilitating discussions with the group in such an exemplary fashion.



Professor Paul Webley
Director & Principal

23 signatures on Early Day Motion in Houses of Parliament


EDM 1685
SCHOOL OF ORIENTAL AND AFRICAN STUDIES LIVING WAGE CAMPAIGN 16.06.2009
Corbyn, Jeremy 23 signatures

Abbott, Diane
Anderson, David
Caton, Martin

Clapham, Michael
Clark, Katy
Cryer, Ann

Davies, Dai
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim

Drew, David
Durkan, Mark
Galloway, George

George, Andrew [R]
Gerrard, Neil
Hancock, Mike

Hopkins, Kelvin
Jones, Lynne
McDonnell, John

Riordan, Linda
Taylor, David
Vis, Rudi

Wareing, Robert N
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

Victory video and campaign mtg videos

Hanadi reading out the statement including demands won



Sally Hunt-Gen Sec UCU



Sandy Nicholl - SOAS UNISON



More can be found at Ady Cousins YouTube channell HERE


Saturday, 20 June 2009

Live blogging from CAIC mtg-how do we end immigration controls?

Introductions. People from a variety of groups.

Issues;
Rise of BNP
BJBW
Checks and raids at workplaces
migrant struggles
SOAS raid

Going to use 'consensus' decision making process

1st speaker:

people tend to make scape goats in times like this (economic, political termoil)
BNP hard line nazi's elected but also UKIP.
BJBW slogans
within 5 mins of 1st fascist getting elected, a Labour minister said we need to listen to the electorates voices and their concerns with immigration so we should anticipate a rise in attacks from both the fascists and the government

1st contribution-multinational corporations, destroy our economy, our habitat.
The real enemy is the bosses. MW dont have same rights so how to fight back?

Feedback from meeting last night

The meeting last night came up for lots of suggestions for how we take things forward, including:

* 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.

Take action in solidarity with Yarl's Wood hunger strikers

Detainees at Yarl's Wood detention centre are on hunger strike to demand:

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 - homeaffairs@serco.com

* 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 - burta@parliament.uk

* 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 feminist.fightback@gmail.com 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

Rally & campaign mtg this Friday - the campaign builds!

Meet for a rally called by UNISON at SOAS on Friday at 6pm!

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

On a lighter note: phunny photos

For more, regularly updated, photos go to http://freesoascleaners.blogspot.com/2009/06/photos-again.html

The leftovers














looks like trouble














Prime reading



















AFRO CHOC!!!!!!! Found in the fridge...



















OMG-'skipped' soup-in-a-bag!



















And the Afrochoc takes centre stage :-)

2nd video in series.

Jeremy Corbyn & Michael Rosen speak at yesterday's rally

Wins for the SOAS Occupiers and the fight continues!

At 12.30pm today, after several rounds of intense and complicated negotiations we have reached an agreement between all parties.

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.

Notes:
Statement:http://freesoascleaners.blogspot.com/2009/06/joint-statement-from-soas-and-students.html

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

Send this letter to the Home Office NOW!!

This is the letter for everyone to send ASAP!! Spread the word!!

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
Email: UKBApublicenquiries@UKBA.gsi.gov.uk

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.

Yours sincerely
Name:
Address:
City: Postcode: Country:
Date: Email: Phone:

Joint Statement from SOAS and Students Union

URGENT- contact the Home Office NOW and spread the word!

What to do to help the SOAS cleaners:
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)
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 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

Update-liveblogging

statement-yes, once we're gone
will open discussions with ISS
Governing Body-yes as stated below
Amnesty for us - yes

We recognise the contribution of migrant workers

SOAS will call for amnesty for all migrant workers

statement will oonly be signed once we're out

Our revised demands as of 10.30pm last night

Advice needed

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.
(Answer: NO-illegal)

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

Don't wet yourself laughing...but this is what ISS think of themselves

Prizes for the best replies! (From the official Website HERE)

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.

Academic Solidarity Statement on the SOAS Cleaners

We are writing to express our solidarity with the SOAS cleaners who were forcibly detained by the Immigration and Border Police at the School on 12 June, and to denounce the School authorities for facilitating this outrageous assault on a vulnerable group of migrant workers who dared to fight back.

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

Rally Wednesday 12pm outside SOAS

Sign the e-petition HERE

Thousands more on paper petitions support this campaign and action.

Spirits are high and we are aware that this is a good start for a campaign that can achieve so much.

We have been up all night working on our demands so that they achieve what we all set out to do for the campaign.

We have had an excellent evening and has shown us what can be done when we all fight together.

Join occupiers, staff and others for a rally to show SOAS management that the fight for justice for the SOAS 9 continues! Demonstrate the campaign is growing and we won't give up till management meet our demands!

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.

12pm

SOAS Steps


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

Negotiations with the Director Paul Webley have resumed - whilst negotiations are taking place bailiffs will not be sent in to evict us.

Meet for the planned Demonstration today at 4:30pm at SOAS steps.

Eviction. 3pm apparently. EMERGENCY. Injunction served on occupation

Please get down here now and get in contact if you know anything.

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.

GREEN MEP DEMANDS ANSWERS AFTER SOAS REMOVALS

From the Office of Jean Lambert
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 [1]. 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
immigration officers.

“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.
[2]”

Hunger Strike in family unit at Yarl's Wood

A number of women in the family unit at Yarl's Wood have gone on hunger strike, I am hoping to get a collective statement from the later on as to why they are on hunger strike and what they want people on the outside to do.

Message from Senate House and Edexcel

We strongly support your occupation of SOAS in protest at the deportations of the nine cleaners. We condemn the hypocrisy of SOAS and the cleaning contractors ISS in turning a blind eye to the employment status of their employees until those employees started to campaign for decent employment rights and a fair wage. We support all of your demands to the SOAS management.

In solidarity,
Senate House and Edexcel UNISON branch

Message from PCS

On behalf of the Central London Valuation branch of PCS (Public & Commercial Services Union) we are writing to protest at the appalling victimisation of union members amongst your cleaning staff.
>
> 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.
>
> Yours
> A A Reid (Branch Secretary)
> Central London PCS Branch

Hi there,

Below is the email I sent yesterday to SOAS. We’ve also emailed the UK border agency complaining that there statement on the BBC website is utter nonsense

Good luck with it. I’ve asked the regional UNISON HE chair to circulate it as well but am waiting for them to come back to me at the moment

All the Best


Dear Paul,

I’m writing to express my disgust on behalf of UNISON members at the University of Birmingham at the treatment of your cleaning staff at SOAS both by yourselves and what appears to be collaboration with immigration authorities in this country. Your actions have not only wrecked the lives of their families but placed the lives of the deported members of staff in grave danger. Not since the Tolpuddle martyrs have trade unionists been deported for being a member of a union. On behalf of Birmingham University UNISON I will be raising this with MP’s, ministers, and the press.

I would therefore urge you to:

  • Stop immigration services accessing SOAS buildings
  • Apologise to cleaners and there families
  • Call for the immediate release of detainees still in the UK

EMERGENCY. Injunction served on occupation

Please get down here now and get in contact if you know anything.

Thanks. Get down here.

Demonstration TODAY. Don't MESS with our cleaners

Assemble SOAS with mops, props and noise.

4.30pm.

Short rally followed by march arouond all the Bloomsbury colleges.

SPEAKER: Jeremy Corbyn MP and others

We have to give confidence back to the cleaners and other staff in the Bloomsbury group who are feeling under threat and intimidated.

This is also happening around the world. Here is what an activist has sent us from Australia.

"Hey I just wanted to let you know that you are definitely not alone. Here at Newcastle University we are currently battling our administration who are cutting the funding for our cleaning staff by 25%. Further to that, the rights of international workers and students in this country are constantly under threat. If a student fails too many courses they can be thrown into a detention centre, detention centres located in the most remote locations in our country.

Please keep fighting and if there's anything we can do to help please let us know."

For more detail please call 07958 034 181

Solidarity needed.

Message from George Galloway

To all in occupation at SOAS in support of the cleaners,

You have my full support for your excellent and highly principled initiative in protesting against the detention of nine cleaners at SOAS and I am dismayed that as many of five of them may already have been deported. You are acting in the very best traditions of student protest against the victimisation of the downtrodden and the oppressed. I am in Dallas, Texas, briefly with Viva Palestina US helping to raise $10 million in aid for the besieged population of Gaza but I am following developments at SOAS closely. I will be writing today to the Home Secretary to add my voice to those urging the release of the SOAS detainees and to Professor Paul Webley, the Director and Principal of SOAS. I wish you every success in achieving your demands.

With my best wishes,

George Galloway MP

Monday, 15 June 2009

Photos again
























International Messages of Support

Australia

Hey I just wanted to let you know that you are definitely not alone. Here at Newcastle University we are currently battling our administration who are cutting the funding for our cleaning staff by 25%. Further to that, the rights of international workers and students in this country are constantly under threat. If a student fails too many courses they can be thrown into a detention centre, detention centres located in the most remote locations in our country.

Please keep fighting and if there's anything we can do to help please let us know.


Germany

Dear friends,

we strongly support your immediate action taken to support the cleaners at soas.

We have covered your action on:

London: Uni-Besetzung gegen Abschiebeskandal

http://www.linkezeitung.de/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=6882&Itemid=35

Victory to the cleaners!

Best regards to you,

Francis Byrne
Internationale Sozialisten

Jess Hurd fabulous photography

http://www.jesshurd.com/clients/0906SOAS_cleaners/

ELECTED MEP GREEN CONDEMN ARREST OF SOAS WORKERS

From the Office of Jean Lambert MEP

Green Party Member of the European Parliament for London

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 12 June 2009
Jean Lambert MEP and Jenny Jones AM have condemned the arrest of nine cleaning workers at SOAS this morning [Friday 12 June].

It is believed that the staff, mainly of Ecuadorian and possibly Colombian origin, have been arrested and are being processed for deportation.

A demonstration had been organised at SOAS this morning in support of Stalin Bermudez, the SOAS Unison branch chair, who was sacked earlier this year after a highly controversial disciplinary process. A Unison representative arrived at the college, just off Russell Square, at 7am this morning to discover a number of immigration control officers who had detained and were processing cleaning staff, and interrogating them about their status. The union received no prior warning.

The Green Party has pledged its full support for the staff, and Jean Lambert MEP is already in contact with the union, who are arranging legal representation. Unison and UCU were holding an emergency meeting to decide on subsequent action.
Jean Lambert, London’s Green Party MEP, said:

“The circumstances and aims of this raid are utterly deplorable. These cleaning staff have been treated like criminals, and the timing of the raid is particularly reprehensible – first thing in the morning at the end of the university term, with fewer people around to intervene. Luckily, the union has been on hand to help arrange legal assistance for those arrested, and it is also fortunate that the demonstration – ironically called to highlight existing concerns about the treatment of SOAS staff – meant that this raid was noticed and immediate steps could be taken.
“I reiterate and reinforce the support already pledged by the Green Party, and I will be monitoring this case and its outcomes closely. Today’s events highlight the need to find ways for people to regularise their status so that their vital contribution to London and society in general is recognised. It also makes the Strangers Into Citizens campaign, organised by London Citizens, still more urgent.”

Jenny Jones, Green Party member of the London Assembly, said:

"The effect of such ruthlessness on these workers and on their families is a cruel punishment. Workers have the right to be treated with courtesy and this raid is beneath contempt. Is this really how the Government tells them how to behave?"


ENDS

Notes to Editors
Jean Lambert MEP is an expert on employment and asylum and immigration issues and is an active campaigner for the London Living Wage. On 1 May 2009 she addressed a May Day Living Wage rally at the Bloomsbury colleges in London. Stalin Bermudez also spoke at this demo.

Jenny Jones is a Green Party Member of the London Assembly. She sits on the Metropolitan Police Authority.

Message from Migrant Rights Network

‘We were appalled to hear about the circumstances around the raid of SOAS last Friday, resulting in the detention of 9 cleaners. From the accounts we have heard, this incident was highly aggressive, prevented the workers involved from accessing legal or trade union representation, and caused medical distress.

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.