EMERGENCY MOTION to LONDON FED 15/06/2009
PREAMBLE: “In 1834 six Dorset agricultural labourers, united together to - "preserve ourselves, our wives, and our children, from utter degradation and starvation". They were deported to Tasmania and became known as the Tolpuddle Martyrs.
Graham Dyer Chair of SOAS UCU speaking outside SOAS today noted the obvious parallel with the five SOAS cleaners who have been deported to South America this weekend; whilst one more is detained awaiting a deportation decision today. Some may have been sent to Columbia which has an appalling record for repression of trades Unionists up to and including torture and murder.
The SOAS martyrs were detained by Immigration Service Officers dressed in riot gear who surrounded a meeting of cleaners at SOAS at Friday, the meeting had been called just prior to a Union meeting to campaign for the reinstatement of Unison Shop Steward Joseph Stalin Bermudez who had been involved in the living wage campaign for cleaning and catering staff in the University of London.
The London Federation of Green Parties
1. Reiterates its support for campaigns for a living wage for all London workers
2. Supports the statements of protest against the arrest of SOAS WORKERS on 12/6/2009 made by Jenny Jones AM and Jean Lambert MEP and in the letter to the press signed by Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn Mp and others.
3. Notes that the invitation of IS officers onto SOAS campus by SOAS management their intimidatory conduct, and the deportation of SOAS workers seems a clear attempt to use migration law as a weapon in industrial relations in an attempt to prevent workers organising themselves to secure legitimate rights and decent remuneration for their work.
4. Class on its elected representatives GP and the labour movement to oppose all such intimidation and to campaign for the reinstatement of and redress to all those deported and/or dismissed see and/or otherwise punished for attempting to exercise their legitimate rights.
ELECTED GREENS CONDEMN ARREST OF SOAS WORKERSFrom the Office of Jean Lambert MEP, Green Party Member of the European Parliament June 2009
Jean Lambert MEP and Jenny Jones AM have condemned the arrest of nine cleaning workers at SOAS this morning [Friday 12 June].It is believed that the staff, mainly of Ecuadorian and possibly Colombian origin, have been arrested and are being processed for deportation.
A demonstration had been organised at SOAS this morning in support of Stalin Bermudez, the SOAS Unison branch chair, who was sacked earlier this year after a highly controversial disciplinary process. A Unison representative arrived at the college, just off Russell Square, at 7am this morning to discover a number of immigration control officers who had detained and were processing cleaning staff, and interrogating them about their status. The union received no prior warning.The Green Party has pledged its full support for the staff, and Jean Lambert MEP is already in contact with the union, who are arranging legal representation. Unison and UCU were holding an emergency meeting to decide on subsequent action.
Jean Lambert, London's Green Party MEP, said:"The circumstances and aims of this raid are utterly deplorable. These cleaning staff have been treated like criminals, and the timing of the raid is particularly reprehensible - first thing in the morning at the end of the university term, with fewer people around to intervene. Luckily, the union has been on hand to help arrange legal assistance for those arrested, and it is also fortunate that the demonstration - ironically called to highlight existing concerns about the treatment of SOAS staff - meant that this raid was noticed and immediate steps could be taken."I reiterate and reinforce the support already pledged by the Green Party, and I will be monitoring this case and its outcomes closely.
Today's events highlight the need to find ways for people to regularise their status so that their vital contribution to London and society in general is recognised. It also makes the Strangers Into Citizens campaign, organised by London Citizens, still more urgent."
Jenny Jones, Green Party member of the London Assembly, said:"The effect of such ruthlessness on these workers and on their families is a cruel punishment. Workers have the right to be treated with courtesy and this raid is beneath contempt. Is this really how the Government tells them how to behave?"
Notes to Editors
Jean Lambert MEP is an expert on employment and asylum and immigration issues and is an active campaigner for the London Living Wage. On 1 May 2009 she addressed a May Day Living Wage rally at the Bloomsbury colleges in London. Stalin Bermudez also spoke at this demo.
Jenny Jones is a Green Party Member of the London Assembly. She sits on the Metropolitan Police Authority.
For more details of the London Citizens Strangers Into Citizens campaign visit http://www.strangersintocitizens.org.uk/For more information please contact: Rosie Lavan, London Media Assistant firstname.lastname@example.org 220424
Sunday, 14 June 2009
Stop Racist Deportations at SOAS
We are appalled at the actions of the immigration services, who with the aid of facilities contractors ISS conducted an early morning raid of SOAS recently. Nine cleaners were accused of working without valid documentation and are now being held pending their likely deportation from the UK.Neither the contractors nor the university authorities had any problem with employing migrant labour with or without valid work permits so long as lecture theatres were cleaned at low rates and ISS were making sufficient profits.The crime these mainly Latin American workers seem to have committed is to have campaigned for, and won, the London Living Wage and their union rights. In fact ISS had signed a union recognition agreement with Unison last week. Unison members struck solidly last month in protest at the sacking of cleaner and union activist Jose Stalin Bermudez. Evidence suggests that SOAS Management colluded with ISS and the immigration services to allow this shameful episode to happen and we believe that the raid took place to send a message to other groups of workers who may have been encouraged by the success of the Living Wage campaigns.We demand an amnesty for all migrant workers in Britain.
Signed by (incl):Tony Benn
Jeremy Corbyn MP
John McDonnell MP
Sandy Nicholl SOAS UNISON
Graham Dyer SOAS UNISON
Marya Ahmed SOAS Co-PresidentElly James SOAS Women's Officer
Clare Solomon Former SOAS Co-President
James Haywood NUS NEC
Phemie Matheson NUS NEC
Pat Carmody CWU P&B Section Secretary