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london diary

June 2019

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my london diary

Never Forget Never Forgive SOAS

SOAS, University of London. Wed 12 Jun 2019




 SOAS Management in 2009 were upset because cleaners were asking for the London Living Wage. The

 management had outsourced the cleaning so that the cleaners got low wages and poor conditions but SOAS

 could claim it wasn't their fault. But the workers and the students wouldn't wear it, and the cleaners took

 industrial action, backed by their UNISON union branch. Management's response was to arrange with the UK

 border agency and the cleaning contractor to call all the cleaners to a fake 6am briefing. After they arrived the

 doors were locked and the cleaners were all interrogated by the Home Office staff. Nine were found to have

 questionable immigration status and were arrested and deported, despite protests by students and staff at SOAS.

 Unison branch secretary Sandy Nichol tells the story. The cleaners kept on fighting for better pay an conditions

 and to be brought back into direct employment by SOAS university - and after years of struggle they are now

 back 'in house', wearing SOAS uniforms. But SOAS cleaners, staff and students still remember the shameful

 behaviour of the management, and hold up posters with the names of those who were deported.

 

 Consuela, wearing her SOAS cleaners uniform speaks in Spanish

 and her speech is translated into English

 People stand listening. I didn't have a wide enough lens to include all who were there

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 A speaker from Birkbeck Unison

 

 

 Teaching staff also spoke about the incident and their support for the low paid workers in SOAS

 

 

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