Sunday, 6 September 2009


Dear friends

SOAS UNISON, SOAS UCU and SOAS Students' Union would like to invite
you to take part in an open planning meeting to discuss our campaign
to bring back our cleaners in-house, and how to build the teach-in on
migrant workers that we are organising for Saturday 17 October 2009
following the brutal UKBA raid on our cleaning staff in June.

Details of the meeting—at which we want to plan how to build the
conference—are below.

Please feel free to forward this invitation.

The conference will take the form of a series of seminars followed by
a general plenary, at which we will formally launch the “Hands off my
Workmate” (and “hands off my student, “hands off my patient”)
initiative—a broad based tool kit designed to build opposition to
immigration controls in workplaces, colleges, schools, hospitals, etc.

The purpose of the conference is to highlight the precarious working
conditions of migrant workers in Britain today and to use it as a
campaigning base to bring this to the public’s and trade union’s
attention. The use of immigration raids against migrants who organise
trade unions is becoming more frequent and attacks on migrants are
gathering pace, with trades unionists in hospitals, colleges, benefit
centres and local services increasingly asked to take on the functions
of immigration officers.

We wish to build the broadest based unity in defence of migrant
workers and against racism and are aiming to get wide participation in
the conference—and to encourage discussion and participation in the
“hands off” initiative.

Below is the planned agenda for the day. Aside from migrant workers,
authors on relevant subjects and speakers from universities we have
invited representatives from trades unions to speak on the day and we
hope that by the 9th we will have an impressive list of speakers to
lead off sessions.

However, this conference will be mainly workshop based and allow a
great deal of room for discussion from the floor so that activists can

We hope that the planning meeting will be a working event so please
come armed with ideas of ways to highlight the issues and advertise
the event!

We hope you will be able to attend and help ensure the event is as
successful and effective as possible.

OPEN PLANNING MEETING for hands off my workmate

Weds 9th Sept 2009
Room 116
Main SOAS building (off Russel Sq)
Sandy Nicoll Graham Dyer Ben Sellers
SOAS UNISON Branch Secretary SOAS UCU President SOAS Students' Union

MORNING Plenary: welcome migrant workers as part of the mainstream

WORKSHOPS: (3 groups of four)

* Bread and roses too: how migrant workers have always been central to
* Winning the living wage
* Busting the migration myths: challenging the racists
* Globalisation and profits: How do borders fit in

* Poverty, war, neoliberalism, migrant labour in the global economy
(why people move)
* Stopping the raids: legal and union strategies to defend migrant
* As above in another session
* The border in the workplace: restricting welfare and housing- who

* the citizenship agenda: tests, oaths and amnesties—where should we
* The feminisation of migrant labour
* What will the recession mean for migrant workers? Arguing jobs for
* We wont spy on students; education for all.

MAIN Plenary: “hands off our workmates, student, patients and


Thank you for all your support. let's try to make thiss a broad,
proactive campaign. If this can happen at SOAS it can happen anywhere.
We need to preempt moves by the government and management to let them
know we are watching and will fight back

Speak soon.

In solidarity

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Another immigration raid on workers who had organised for the living wage...

Workers in the UNITE union at Mitie (Willis)--who also organised around the living wage and who have been fighting off attacks on union organisation for some time, were today conned into a fake meeting on health and safety issues by their managers and raided. a number have been picked up and detained. protests will follow.. with one on friday at 12:30.. watch this space for more details...

other news: the RMT union have agreed to work with the SOAS unions to develop a "hands off my workmate" campaign and the teach in we plan

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.


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

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)

"CIT - Treat Official"

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 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

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.

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.


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

For more information go to:

Stop the Deportation of SOAS University Cleaners!

Supported by SOAS UNISON and UCU