Student occupation ends when SOAS University agrees to write secretary on behalf of deported workers, says The Guardian.
Students who occupied their university for three days to save a group of cleaners from being deported claimed victory this week.
Around 60 students at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas) in London took control of the principal’s office on Monday after a raid by immigration officials last Friday led to six cleaners, alleged to be illegal workers, being deported and two being held in custody.
The cleaners, from South America, were part of a campaign to raise wages so that others like them could survive in London – the London Living Wage campaign.
The university denied some student’s claims that it tipped off immigration officials. Paul Webley, principal of Soas, said:
“Contrary to some of the erroneous allegations being made, Friday’s visit was not arranged or influenced by any member of staff at Soas.”
The students’ occupation ended after the university agreed to write to Alan Johnson the new Home Secretary to request the cleaners be granted “exceptional leave” to stay in the UK.
Hanadi Katerji, secretary of the Soas student union, said:
“We won some important victories with the management. It is the start of a long campaign for us. I’d like to see all staff brought in-house and given the London living wage.”
The cleaners were employed by a contract company, ISS, which has denied any links between the “living wage” campaign and the immigration raid.
A UK Border Agency spokesperson said this week:
‘We will not tolerate illegal working. It leads to the exploitation of illegal immigrants, who are frequently denied the minimum wage or forced to risk dangerous working conditions.”
Employers can be fined up to £10,000 per illegal worker under the new Civil Penalty system.
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