ModernityBlog

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SOAS Cleaners.

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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.”

Written by modernityblog

14/06/2009 at 22:21

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