Workers’ Fightback: Update 10

Three weeks after the brutal UK Borders Agency raid on cleaners at the School of Oriental and African Studies in Camden, and the milestone student solidarity response (see WF 7), details have emerged about the predicament currently facing some of the cleaners abducted in the swoop. According to

“One of the UNISON members picked up, who was traumatised by the clandestine nature of the raid and the appearance of around 40 officers in full body armour, arrived back in Bogota, 48 hours after the raid, wearing the same clothes she was arrested in and with 75 pence in her pocket. Disorientated and distressed, she was simply dumped in Bogota—hundreds of miles from her home town without any concern as to how she could get back to her family.”

Similarly, Rosa Perez was deported on 30th June, without the statutory 72 hours notice, and therefore without the chance to say any goodbyes. Marina Silva is being detained at Yarl’s Wood in Bedford, where inmates face appalling conditions and many are currently protesting this in the only way left open to them: hunger strike.

Clearly, despite the early declaration of ‘victory‘ by the Socialist Workers Party contingent at SOAS, great suffering was caused by the collusion of anti-worker SOAS Director Paul Webley and UKBA. The student resistance has not been enough to save Perez, Silva, and their colleagues from a terrible fate. Another critical analysis of the student occupation recently appeared in The Commune, arguing that:

“While an open and self-critical debate is needed to ensure that future occupations realise their potential, many aspects of the SOAS protest nevertheless offer hope for the future: the breadth of the coalition assembled, the willingness to adopt militant action, the barriers (at least initially) that were broken down between workers and students, and the growing awareness of the connections between immigration policy and exploitation in the workplace.”

On 28th June, soldiers serving under US-trained commanders seized power in Honduras, expelling elected President Manuel Zelaya, and appointing Roberto Micheletti as Acting President. Zelaya had angered the US by having friendly relations with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and while neither Zelaya nor Chavez had challenged the profit system in any practical sense, both have made significant populist concessions to their respective working classes. The coup has therefore shown that even small impediments to profit-making will not be tolerated during this economic collapse, and is a stark warning to working people around the world.

So it is even more significant that Honduran workers have not taken this attack lying down, fighting back with strikes and protests. Teachers in particular have been militantly opposed the new dictatorship, and have now been on indefinite strike for two weeks. Narco News reports:

“In the one school where some (not all) classes were scheduled to begin on Monday, the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH), students occupied the school to maintain the strike despite the university rector’s attempts to re-open the school. A student who is participating in the occupation told Radio Progreso that the students will continue to occupy the university until Zelaya returns.”