Wednesday, 17 June 2009

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.


Letter to Home office:

Academic support:

Write to the Home Office to try to prevvent deportation:


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  3. Mort, I was one of the occupiers myself and I think you are taking this statement out of context. It is not an attempt to say that what we were doing was more important than the cleaners but that we had support from the cleaners for the action in opposition to the deportations IN SPITE OF the intimidation that they faced. Of course the fight continues but let us not forget that it was management that was shamed by our actions, we won the PR coup and will continue to do so by highlight the shameful behaviour of both ISS and SOAS management. I certainly have no problem with reciprocating their message of thanks to us as a way to move the campaign forward in a positive direction.

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  6. Previous posts removed in light of (positive) amendments to original article.

  7. Thank you to both of you. This statement was written in a rush after hardly any sleep for a few days and has been a collective effort (hence the various writting styles!)

    Any further question please feel free to add a comment

  8. well done on your victory.

  9. Welldone guys , keep up fighting , united ,we are never going to be defited.