Archive for June 14th, 2009
A Facbook group has been started, Stop the Deportation of SOAS University Cleaners:
This group has been set up in solidarity with the 9 members of the cleaning staff at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) who have been detained and who face immediate deportation, following a morning raid on SOAS campus on the 12th June by the Immigration and Border police.
Below is a summary of the events. Please sign up and show your support.
At 6.30am on Friday the 12th June, ISS (the company who contracts the SOAS cleaning staff) called a meeting for all cleaners.
Within minutes the meeting was raided by approximately 45-50 Immigration and Border police, who entered through the fire doors and the main entrance to the room and detained all the cleaning staff; the officers were in riot gear.
Following the raid the cleaners were locked in the room. One by one the workers were led into another SOAS classroom, where their immigration status was checked. During this process the staff were allowed no representation and provided with no translator (many staff are native Spanish speakers). A trade union representative at the scene was refused access to the staff members.
Nine cleaners, including five UNISON members, were taken into detention. One detained individual was six months pregnant, she is thought to have collapsed during the events.
It is known that the contractor ISS had requested the police action. Two members of SOAS management were present during the raid, liaising with the police. This suggests that the school had prior knowledge of the raid.
ISS have informed UNISON that those cleaners detained may be fast-tracked out of the country, thus they may be deported within 72 hours.
Those detained have been working at SOAS for many years; they have settled in London. Deportation will be devastating not only for the individuals involved but also the families. They are also our friends and fellow colleagues in the SOAS community.
It is not a coincidence that SOAS cleaners were one of the first university cleaners to fight for Union representation and a decent wage. The events on Friday appear to be aimed at sending a clear message to other agency workers in London not to fight for union representation, such levels of intimidation cannot be tolerated.
We believe the heavy-handed treatment which the cleaners received was grossly over the top and ISS/SOAS are complicit in this.
We believe that these appalling events are proof once again that SOAS cleaning staff need to be brought in-house and that companies like ISS which exploit and intimidate workers have no place at SOAS.
We demand an immediate end to the deportations.”
“It is no surprise that the highly contested results of the presidential elections in Iran have sparked unrest in Tehran and other cities across Iran. The level of cheating on display seems crazy even by the standards of Iran’s Islamic Republic regime. Clearly, the results are the final proof that confirms that the whole electoral process is deeply undemocratic and rigged from top to bottom:
* Ahmadinejad was declared winner by the official media even before some polling stations had closed
* His final result was almost identical to what the (rigged) polls predicted all the way through the elections. This percentage did not ever vary by more than three percent
* Hundreds of candidates were barred from standing in the first place, especially those of the left
After all, irrespective of the illusions of their supporters, Moussavi and the other reformist candidate, Mehdi Karroubi, are no radical opponents of the regime. For eight years, Moussavi served as prime minister of the Islamic republic – during some of the darkest days of this regime. He was deeply involved in the arms-for-hostages deals with the Reagan administration in the1980s, what came to be known as ‘Irangate’. He also played a prominent role in the brutal wave of repression in the 1980s that killed a generation of Iranian leftists. During this period, thousands of socialists and communists were jailed, with many of them executed while in prison. ”
The comments at the Beeb from Iranians makes plain their anger:
“I headed for Vanak Square, one of the main squares in Tehran, to express my own anger and frustration at the election results.
It was a scene of chaos and violence. The security guards had blocked all main roads and streets. Fires were burning everywhere. The protesters had set fire to buses, motorcycles, litter boxes and just about anything.
They were angry, extremely angry. They were shouting slogans, cursing the whole regime! “
The question of Unison’s actions against the trade union friends of Israel should make anyone committed to trade unionism worry.
According to the article in the Jewish Chronicle one of the reasons given was “safety”.
The implication being that if the Trade Union Friends of Israel had a stall at the Unison conference that it might be attacked or the people manning it might be threatened.
That seems possible in the current climate but consider the precedence.
In spite of the abundance of news concerning Soviet atrocities in Afghanistan in the 1980s, I don’t believe there was any question that anyone from the Trade Union Friends of the Soviet Union (or the equivalent) would have been attacked by other trade unionists, should they attend a conference.
Still less would be Trade Union friends of Russia be likely for physical attack in spite of Russia’s brutal and murderous campaign against the Chechens.
I have yet to hear of any Trade Union friends of China being accosted or threatened despite China’s military conquest of Tibet and subsequent occupation.
Readers could probably pick other examples, but I am sure that you see the implication?
Despite other regimes with terrible, utterly horrific human rights records there was never any question that their “Trade Union friends” or whatever the fraternal organisations were actually called being physically threatened, and certainly not by trade unionists.
That isn’t how trade unionist conduct arguments, fascists certainly attack trade unions but trade unionists do not emulate those modern barbaric regimes and why would they?
Fraternal discussion between Israeli and Palestinian trade unions has benefited both of them, it has lessened tensions and people relate to each other.
So Unison’s decision sets a terrible precedence, which is that the threat or implied threat of violence is somehow acceptable against trade unionists, who consider themselves to be friends of the Israelis.
Even if you disagree with the Trade Union Friends of Israel, that should worry any genuine and concerned trade unionist, for once you start down the road of violence (or implied violence) within the trade union movement then you are doing the fascist’s job for them.
Update: Engage has news of a fringe meeting. I hadn’t realized but there’s history here.