Tuesday, 7 July 2009

SOAS cleaners update

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 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

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