Friday, June 26, 2009

Lobby the Home Office next Tuesday - the SOAS Cleaners are not Criminals

As the work of catching up after Conference has eaten into my time I have failed to blog much about what went on last week in Brighton. One particular area of activity was getting an NEC statement in opposition to the appalling immigration raid at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). Details of the NEC statement are online.

Full credit must go to the delegates from SOAS, the Camden local government branch and Regional Delegate Mandy Berger for pushing for the statement. A lot of work was also done by UNISON officials to chase up the details of what was going on, and it was appropriate that the statement was read by the General Secretary last Friday.

Now we can all lend a hand in the continuing struggle for justice.

SOAS UNISON Branch, UCU and Students' Union have called a lobby of the Home Office (2 Marsham Street, Millbank, SW1) for Tuesday 30 June 2009 at 5.30pm. The lobby is to call on the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson MP, to grant extraordinary leave to remain for our 2 colleagues, Rosa Perez and Marina Silva, who are currently being detained at Yarls Wood. It is also to protest the immigration raid itself and the appalling treatment of undocumented migrant workers which is becoming increasingly common

Staff and students at SOAS are calling for Alan Johnson, Secretary of State for the Home
Office, to grant leave to remain with permission to work for Marina Silva and Rosa dePerez,
two of the SOAS cleaners picked up in a brutal immigration raid on 12th June.

Marina is 63 and applied for asylum following the brutal honour killing of her husband and
threats to her own life. Rosa has four children to support in Nicaragua. They remain in
detention following the raid. Their colleagues, including six months pregnant Luzia, were
deported within 48 hours of the raid.

Cleaners at SOAS had demanded and organised for dignity at work with many joining a
union. They had succeeded in winning union recognition from the privatised cleaning firm
ISS and raising their pay to the London Living Wage—higher than other colleges in the area.
It is of grave concern that the raid, organised by ISS, took place shortly after this campaign
and on the very day on which UNISON was due to protest in support of an activist who had
played a leading role in organising the cleaners at SOAS.

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