Hi Andy (and all),
As you all are no doubt aware, revised demands were conceded by management today.
The settlement reached is as follows:
1.SOAS will write directly to the Home Secretary within 12 hours of the end of the protest, requesting that he grants exceptional leave to remain in the UK those cleaners who are still being detained. In addition, SOAS will request the immediate return of those who have been deported and exceptional leave to remain for those forced into hiding by Friday's raid.
2. SOAS will open discussions with ISS, and separately with UNISON, UCU and the SU, to review in detail the events of last Friday.
3. SOAS will discuss the possibility of bringing cleaning services in-house at the nest scheduled meeting of its Governing Body.
4. SOAS will leet with the relevant unions to discuss health and safety issues relating to immigration raids and acknowledge UCU policy of non-compliance with immigration raids.
5. SOAS will not take action against those involved in the protest.
Numbers 1 and 3 were of most importance to the cleaners at SOAS given the immanent threat of forcible removal or deportation from Britain, Marina, one of the detained cleaners, is facing. She could be flown away as early as tomorrow (now today). http://freesoascleaners.blogspot.com/2009/06/send-this-letter-to-home-office-now.html This links to a template letter that can be sent to the Home Secretary and Phil Woolas, so if you have a minute send it asap. I have done so, along with a personalised section, too. We can all also contact our MPs (even Tories!) asking them to lobby on behalf of the detained cleaners and those forced into hiding.
The demands that were accepted were including as part of a joint Student Union-SOAS statement (not SOAS-Occupiers, since we were not 'recognised' by the management!), and this statement is very interesting:
"This incident has highlighted the need for further debate regarding this issue and, as has been mentioned in earlier correspondence, SOAS will be speaking with other heads of universities about the wider implications of the Government's policy on immigration and any likely impact it may have on our staff and students."
At a meeting at 6pm this evening, held in the Roberts Builidng at UCL, to discuss the new points based immigration system, this was discussed by reps from UNISON and UCU. Pressure exerted on other heads of schools for a progressive policy based around the best interests of all staff and students could thus be very important in tackling the discriminatory treatment of migrants across London and at SOAS, whilst also assisting the UCU's opposition to new controls. The acknowledgement of UCU non-compliance with immigration raids is also good. Although not as strong as we would have liked, it is a positive development, with 'acknowledge' being a potentially fun word to play with from UCU's perspective. The SOAS management also state:
"In our personal capacity, we would also like to indicate our support for the regularisation of non-documented workers."
'Regularise', not 'amnesty', implying support for a continuous process, not just a one-off. That got in under the radar!
There is a meeting at 6pm on Friday in SOAS Junior Common Room (by the main entrance) about the occupation and what next in the campaign etc. I would also like, on a personal note, to thank all those who have offered the cleaners and the occupation their support and solidarity, especially those who came down to the occupation and to those who came to the SOAS on very short notice on Tuesday when we thought a police raid was immanent. The solidarity shown has been much appreciated by all involved. And to show that, when the leaflet was published for today's (yesterday's) rally, the section listing a select few of the cleaners' supporters was led off by the Green Party. Jean has also been excellent on this!
Occupation is however tiring, so I am off to bed now. If anyone wants to know anything else about future meetings, to look over our media coverage, or see youtube videos of the occupation etc, then check out the blog: http://freesoascleaners.blogspot.com/