Nine cleaners at SOAS were detained by immigration officials at a very early meeting last Friday. Three have already been deported; the rest are being held at Yarlswood detention centre. This follows a campaign by SOAS Unison to organise the cleaners and campaign for the London living wage, so there’s a strong suspicion that either SOAS or the cleaning contractors ISS have used the immigration authorities as union-busters.
Students have occupied the admin offices at SOAS in protest – you can read about their protest here. It’s unbelievably sad that migrant workers who have had the courage to organise and campaign for employment justice should now be threatened with deportation. Migrant workers are one of the most disenfranchised group in our society, and do some of the most dirty and unpleasant work: some of the SOAS cleaners had worked there for years. How hypocritical it is that their illegal status should be tolerated right up to the point where they tried to get better treatment.