‘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.