dutch cleaners win nine week strike

Dutch cleaners campaigned for six months for higher wages and went on strike for another nine weeks. It was the longest strike since 1933 and they won, ‘bread and roses’.

By Willem Dekker, organizer of the cleaners’ union

a six-day sit-in at Utrecht station

The cleaning sector was fully privatized at the end of the nineties. Since then competition has been driving wages down and work pressure up. In the summer of 2009 cleaners, of whom most come from a migrant background, launched a campaign for higher wages, better working conditions and more respect from management. In times of austerity and a government drive for a wage freeze for public workers, this campaign raised the stakes of industrial conflict. If the cleaners could get a raise – why couldn’t other workers? The campaign turned into a model for multicultural resistance against the cut-backs.

Continue reading “dutch cleaners win nine week strike”

burn the borders

by the Collective for Solidarity with the accused of Vincennes

On 25th-27th January the Paris High Court will try ten people for the fire at the Vincennes immigrant detention centre. Our solidarity must look at the full measure of the situation: demanding freedom for those on trial, yes, but also freedom of movement and residency.

The largest detention centre in France burnt on June 22nd 2008. From June 2008 to June 2009, some ten former detainees have been arrested and imprisoned – most of them for nearly one year – in preventive jail. They are charged with “damage”, “voluntary destruction of the buildings of the Vincennes administrative detention centre”, and/or “collective aggression against a police officer, without causing incapacity for work for more than eight days”.

Continue reading “burn the borders”

no borders newsletter ‘movement’ issue 1

The first issue of ‘Movement’, a monthly newsletter covering the latest updates from the No Borders Network and beyond has been published. We are re-launching the No Borders Newsletter in an attempt to create a more regular and broad based publication. Click image below for PDF.


The issue features articles on the clearing of the ‘Jungle’ migrants’ camps in Calais, removals to war zones like Iraq and Sri Lanka, migrant workers’ actions and resistance to deportations. Continue reading “no borders newsletter ‘movement’ issue 1”

interview with migrant cleaners’ reps involved in 4,200-strong paris strike movement

The strike by migrant workers in Paris demanding regularisation has now spread to over forty workplaces, and as it heads into its fourth week it now involves some 4,200 strikers. The latest headline-catching turn in the dispute has been the occupation of part of the French capital’s Pompidou arts centre by restaurant staff.


Libération reports that the flash sixth floor restaurant has now been occupied for over a week, with forty people staying day and night “to show that even behind the decor of chic Parisian restaurants, undocumented workers are running things behind the scenes”. Below appears an interview with Seni cleaners about the issues underlying the strike wave in the city. Continue reading “interview with migrant cleaners’ reps involved in 4,200-strong paris strike movement”

amnesty for some, or papers for all?

At yesterday’s Hands Off My Workmate conference a speaker from London Citizens argued for a limited and conditional amnesty for some unregularised migrants as the only ‘pragmatic’ means of helping them settle in Britain. Similar arguments were made at a May 4th demonstration organised by London Citizens, and here we present a translation of a text distributed at that event by the Coordinadora Latinoamericana.


In a political context, the expression ‘amnesty’ means a general ‘pardon’, turning the page and forgetting the past. In the immigration context this means a ‘grace’ which certain states eventually give to allow certain immigrants meeting given conditions to be able to be regularised. In our view, the idea of amnesty must have the widest possible meaning and cover and benefit all immigrants. In other words, amnesty must mean papers for all. Continue reading “amnesty for some, or papers for all?”

testimony of a mitie worker in an immigration detention centre

Seven cleaners were detained after a raid by immigration police on 14th July, which took place with the complicity of Mitie and Willis. Among our detained sisters and brothers are Alejandro, Hermes Ayala, José Sorriso, Karina Cruz, Cintia, Sonia and Sebastián Desolsa. We are demanding that their salaries are paid and that they win 20 days holiday.

Her name is Lidia, and she said that at 4am there was going to be a meeting about chemicals in the Willis building, and that at 5 in the morning in the basement they would be given times for day-time and early morning shifts. She says that she had an ominous feeling about the timing of these meetings. When she arrived in this room, the manager Donna Sidley and another woman called Ivon were laughing their heads off. Everyone started coming in, with the illegal workers on one side and the legal immigrants on the other – the undocumented workers already separated out – and Donna took a chemical bottle and said for what purpose this or that bottle served. Continue reading “testimony of a mitie worker in an immigration detention centre”

SOAS occupation ends with mixed results

by Taimour Lay

The occupation at SOAS ended disappointingly on Wednesday with a victory rally but few real gains. A statement released in the afternoon admitted that the ‘concessions’ made by Director Paul Webley and the senior management were ultimately more ‘symbolic’ than real. For many of those involved throughout what was often an inspiring protest against last Friday’s despicable immigration raid – an attack which SOAS facilitated and still refuses to apologise for – the question remains: Why did the occupiers walk out when still in a position of strength?

Some members of the occupation were shocked to read the ‘victory post’ that went up on the FreeSOAScleaners blog on Wednesday afternoon, and have collectively released a counter-statement today (posted on Indymedia) to temper the triumphalism. It calls not only for the continuation and renewal of the campaign against ISS, union-busting and collaboration with the Border police, but stresses that lessons must be learned from the occupation after so much promise and negotiating strength on Monday evening was allowed to dissipate in the rush for a deal. Continue reading “SOAS occupation ends with mixed results”

soas occupied! free the cleaners!

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 freesoascleaners@gmail.com, messages of protest to Paul Webley, SOAS Principal at pw2@soas.ac.uk – particularly appreciated from trade unionists.

3.  Occupiers blog here.  Facebook group here. Continue reading “soas occupied! free the cleaners!”