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Cleaners to rally outside university to commemorate deported colleagues

WORKERS’ rights campaigners will rally outside a London university tomorrow to commemorate migrant cleaners who were deported without warning after organising for their rights.

Saturday, June 12, marks the 12th anniversary of the forcible removal of nine cleaners, including a pregnant woman, from the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas), University of London.

The workers, who were employed by the outsourcing company ISS, were called in for an early morning staff meeting at one of the lecture halls.

Following an immigration raid by the Border Agency, the nine workers were handcuffed and deported.

The campaigners said that the cleaners were targeted because they had begun to organise for their workers’ rights.

Justice for Workers founding member Consuelo told the Star: “We remember, every June 12, this infamy that ISS committed in complicity with the Soas management that painfully impacted the community and the cleaning team.

“We continue to await the recognition of this despicable act and a well-deserved public apology for the community.”

Campaigners will gather outside the same lecture hall, which has now unofficially been renamed after the pregnant deportee’s son  Lucas, to unveil a banner at 12.30pm.

A virtual screening of documentary Limpiadores exploring the connections between precarious work and the government’s immigration policy will then be held.

The day of action is also in solidarity with the Colombian protests resisting state-led violence, as many of the cleaning staff are Colombian themselves, and will make the link between colonial violence in Colombia and Britain.

Justice for Workers is continuing to campaign on ensuring university management keeps promises made to workers to improve their conditions in 2018, as well as expanding the campaign against privatisation and outsourcing.

Describing support staff as “an important part of the [university] community,” a Soas spokesperson said: “Soas brought a range of estates staff, including cleaners, in-house in August 2018.

“It means all staff in our campus services teams are directly employed by the university, with the full workforce put on equal terms and conditions.”

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