Socialist Worker

Occupation wins victory for Soas cleaners

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2157

Students occupying the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) last week won a victory in their campaign for justice for deported and detained cleaners from the school.

Immigration officials seized nine cleaners from the London college on Friday 12 June and several have since been deported.

The raid sparked protests by workers and students at Soas, and students occupied the director’s office from Monday of last week.

It took just 48 hours for them to win a victory.

The director agreed to:

  • Request that the home secretary grants exceptional leave to remain to the detained cleaners who are still in Britain, including those forced into hiding by Friday’s raid, and the immediate return of those who have been deported.
  • Look into bringing cleaning services in-house and review the details of Friday’s raid with the ISS cleaning contractor, the Unison and UCU unions and the student union.
  • Take no action against anyone involved in the protest.
  • Acknowledge the UCU’s policy of non-compliance with immigration raids.

The fight to win justice for the cleaners will now continue.

Students, workers and supporters met at Soas on Friday of last week to discuss building on the successful occupation.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of UCU, told the meeting, “Universities are becoming a place for the government to try and prove they are doing something about ‘terrorism’ – which is why what you did here is so important.”

James Haywood from the NUS national executive added, “The director at Soas tried to say that this was not his responsibility.

“Soas students have won some serious things and I hope this can spark off other battles.”

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Article information

Tue 23 Jun 2009, 18:19 BST
Issue No. 2157
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