Socialist Worker

Cleaner waits for deportation: ‘My crime? I took a job to survive’

Immigration officers raided migrant workers at the global insurance firm Willis’s building in central London on 14 July. They arrested seven employees of cleaning contractor Mitie. Daniel, one of the arrested cleaners, spoke to Socialist Worker

Issue No. 2162

Cleaners have been campaigning for better pay and conditions	 (Pic: http://www.guysmallman.com/» Guy Smallman )

Cleaners have been campaigning for better pay and conditions (Pic: » Guy Smallman)


‘The company sent me and other cleaners a letter saying that we should come to a chemical training course at the Willis building in central London on Tuesday 14 July.

A few minutes into this session a large number of police and immigration officers entered the room. They said that nobody should move and took our mobile phones.

The officers told me my real name – I had been using another name for work. They said I was working on a fake passport.

They gave me two options – I could say nothing and be imprisoned for a year or I could confirm my real name and be deported back to my home country.

I told them my real name as it was clear they knew everything about me.

After that they were laughing and joking. Why did they do that? It was not the moment for this kind of thing.

Handcuffed

They took those of us they arrested out of the building, handcuffed like criminals. I had been working there for eight years, but I was being treated like I had killed someone.

We are human beings, but we were treated like we are different.

From that moment I lost my free life. They took us to Bishopsgate police station, and took my shoes and socks off me. They said I could use them to kill myself.

I spent eight hours in a cell. It was a cold place. Then they took me by train to a detention centre in Dover.

On Thursday I was informed that I would be flying the next day and that I should tell my family to bring my baggage to Heathrow airport.

They took me to the airport even though I didn’t have any baggage. I was then told that my flight had been cancelled and that I would have to go to another detention centre near Heathrow.

This place was a prison for immigrants. I was locked in a small room with another person for 23 hours a day. I was there for two days before I was transferred to a detention centre in Cambridge.

Every day I ask what is happening to me. I don’t know anything. My wife’s family is all in Britain, as is my sister and my auntie.

I don’t understand why I have been treated this way when all I have done is get a job and try to survive. People like me don’t have the same rights in this country.

I never stole money from anybody and didn’t do bad things. Now I am in prison just for working.

With all the raids on cleaners in London over the last few months, migrants are worried. You don’t know what will happen to you.

Changed

My life changed two weeks ago.

I had a job, friends and family and now everything has changed.

Five of the people who were arrested with me have already been deported.

One has left his wife and family behind, another has left his wife alone in London, and two of them were husband and wife.

We were all arrested three weeks into the working month, and we haven’t been paid for that time. What will happen to the money we have earned now? I’m sure Mitie won’t be donating it to a charity.’

Interview by Matthew Cookson

Send messages of support to letters@socialistworker.co.uk and we will forward them.

Justice for the cleaners protest at the Willis building, 51 Lime Street, London EC3M, 1pm, Friday 31 July


If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Article information

Features
Tue 28 Jul 2009, 18:56 BST
Issue No. 2162
Share this article


Tags



Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.