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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

Green MEP advocates rights for migrant workers at SOAS conference

University of London union groups, politicians, campaigners and other interested parties are coming together this Saturday to address issues surrounding migrant labour and working conditions. The event, entitled “Hands Off My Workmate”, follows a disturbing immigration raid on contracted cleaners at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in June.

At the time of the raid they were employed through the cleaning contractor ISS, who is claimed to have tipped off the immigration services. The cleaners had recently joined UNISON and had successfully campaigned to be paid the London Living Wage.

London’s Green MEP, Jean Lambert, will be speaking at this public event, which will bring together campaigners, academics, trade unionists and students alongside migrant workers. As a member of the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee, she said:

“The brutal raid on cleaning staff at SOAS earlier this year caused great distress to workers by unnecessarily upsetting and intimidating them. I am therefore pleased to be supporting this action by the University of London’s unions to demand better treatment for all their workers.

“It is particularly worrying that the cleaning contractor ISS is thought to have tipped off the immigration services after the cleaners organised to improve their wages and rights at work.

“I advocate all businesses paying the London Living Wage as this is an accepted minimum to prevent people falling below the poverty line. It is designed to ensure that everyone in London has a decent standard of living.

“Our economy depends on migrant workers, but sadly they are frequently left in a very vulnerable position with their employers, particularly if they are undocumented. It’s time that we face this issue frankly and fairly to make sure all workers are treated with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

The conference will take place from 10-5.30pm on Saturday 17 October 2009 at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG. Jean will be taking part in the opening session at 10am.