SOAS (a college of the University of London) has been occupied by student and supporters over the immigration raid which we reported recently. SOAS management appear to have been involved in the raid, but in any case it is clear that it represents an attack on workers as a response to their decision to organise for a living wage. The ‘two tier workforce’ is not a necesary fact, it is created and enforced through state violence.
45-50 Immigration police entered through the fire doors and the main entrance to the room and surrounded the cleaning staff; the police officers were in riot gear. They cleaners were locked in the room and then led one by one into another room, where their immigration status was checked during which they had no representation or even a translator (many staff are native Spanish speakers). A lot of the cleaners were in emotional distress. A trade union representative was refused access to the staff. The raid was instigated by the cleaning contractor ISS who requested the police action. Two members of SOAS Management were present during the raid liasing with the police, suggesting that they had prior knowledge of the raid.9 Cleaners, five of whom are UNISON members were taken into detention. One detained cleaner was six months pregnant, she is thought to have collapsed during the events.
We cannot let this stand.
A press release from the occupation follows. Occupiers are asking for solidarity:
1. Support at a rally at 4.30pm today on SOAS steps (off Russell Square). Join and strengthen the occupation.
2. Messages of support to firstname.lastname@example.org, messages of protest to Paul Webley, SOAS Principal at email@example.com – particularly appreciated from trade unionists.
3. Occupiers blog here. Facebook group here. Continue reading “soas occupied! free the cleaners!”