SOAS Students Occupy Director's OfficeTagged as: solidarity workers_struggles
Neighbourhoods: russell square
Students at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) have occupied the director's offices in protest at the detention and deportation of nine cleaners [video]. Immigration officials detained the cleaners after an early morning raid on Friday last week. At least five have already been deported - some to Colombia, which has an appalling track record of targeting trade unionists.
Over 50 people are involved in the occupation. They have issued several demands to the Soas directorate. These include the immediate release of the detainees who remain in Britain, to campaign for the return of the cleaners who have already been deported, to bring all contract workers in-house and stop the use of contractors to run services, and to stop immigration officers from coming onto the campus.
Updates Tues 16th:
SOAS management stated that an injunction had been served on the occupation with "immediate effect", but in fact it turned out to be an application for an injunction that that will be dealt with by a judge at a hearing on 22nd June. A well attended rally and demonstration took place in the afternoon [pics]. The occupiers published a revised list of demands.
Update Wednesday 17th: The occupation ended at 12.30pm today. After several rounds of intense negotiations, the occupiers and the management reached an agreement in which the management agreed to all five demands put forward by the protesters, albeit in a not-very-committing way. See report and video.
The occupation has issued a list of demands to SOAS management:
- 1. We call on the directorate to request the secretary of state to immediately release the detainees and to prevent the deportation of the three cleaners who are still in detention in the UK.
- 2. For the directorate to release a public statement condemning what has happened to the SOAS cleaners and calling for their immediate release and return.
- 3. To campaign for the return of the cleaners who have already been deported.
- 4. To bring all contract staff in house. SOAS should not use contractors, ISS or others.
- 5. To keep immigration officers from entering campus under ANY circumstances or other forms of collaboration with immigration or police. Universities are for education not for state violence and oppression.
- 6. A year's wage as reparations for all detained and deported staff.
- 7. To hold accountable SOAS managers who were complicit in facilitating the raid and detention of the cleaners, refusing to aid a sick worker and a pregnant woman.
- 8. To reinstate Jose Stalin Bermudez, the SOAS UNISON branch chair.
- 9. To respect the right to organise in Trade Unions unimpeded.
- 10. To provide space and resources for a public meeting to build support for the SOAS 9 and other migrants, in education and beyond, affected by immigration control and racism.
- 11. Amnesty for all those involved.
Photos by Fil Kaler