Monday, 15 June 2009

Justice for SOAS Cleaners!

Protests have been called following a raid on the cleaning staff at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) by 40-50 armored police from the Immigration and Border Agency, Communist Students report.

At 6.30am on Friday the 12th the company that sub-contracts SOAS' cleaning staff called a meeting of the employees, having assembled in room G2 the room was raided by armed officers and those present questioned, without recourse to a SOAS Unison rep or translator. The raid took place at the behest of the ISS, the company sub-contracted to provide cleaning staff, and was carried out with the prior knowledge of SOAS management who were present during.

Of those interrogated Unison reports that 9 were arrested for allegedly working without proper documentation, and have since been sent to detention centers. Early reports indicate that a woman six-month pregnant is among those detained, while three members of staff have reportedly been 'fast track' deported out of the UK.

SOAS cleaners have been active in fighting to win union recognition alongside campaigns around wage increases. Worryingly early reports suggest that at least one member of staff has been threatened with deportation to Columbia, a country known to be particularly dangerous for trade unionist activists.

Around 100 students, allies and fellow SOAS staff gathered outside the main building at 8.30pm prior to a Unison emergency branch meeting. Following this public protest students occupied the university building and have issued a series of demands to SOAS management, including the release of the remaining detainees still held in detention.

Please take a few moments to send messages of solidarity to and protests to SOAS principal Paul Webley at This is vitally important and urgent.