- Created: Wednesday, 03 July 2019 11:06
- Written by Dominic Mulgrew
In Glasgow around 330 ‘failed’ asylum seekers are once again facing eviction and street homelessness at the hands of the Home Office housing contractor SERCO backed up by Scottish courts and police. Glasgow Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! joined and supported mobilisations and protests against the ‘SERCO evictions’ when they were first announced last July (see here) and is supporting the ongoing protests and mobilisations.
In April the Court Of Session, which is Scotland’s supreme civil court, ruled in favour of SERCO, COMPASS (former sub-contractor for SERCO known as Orchard & Shipman (Glasgow) Ltd)’ and the Home office against two women, one Kurdish Iranian and one Kurdish Iraqi, who have been threatened by these ‘lock change’ evictions (Rashidi and Ali v Serco Limited, Compass SNI Ltd, and the Secretary of State for the Home Department). The court ruling, concluded by Lord Tyre, argued that these lock change evictions did not breach human rights and that they could go ahead without court orders as ‘failed’ asylum seekers would be able to appeal against these evictions to the First Tier Immigration Tribunal. This is the conclusion of a racist court defending a racist immigration system which is designed to force out those who are not welcome inside imperialist Britain.
Following this ruling, SERCO announced on 11/12 June that it would begin the lock change evictions again by sending out letters with 21 days’ notice of eviction to tenants. In reality the notice given has been much shorter with one woman in Maryhill told to vacate her flat by 25 June. Only with the mobilisation of campaigners and opposition from her local MP was the eviction called off.
The reannouncement of these evictions has gained public interest and the protests organised so far have attracted encouraging numbers of people onto the streets. The tenants' union Living Rent organised two ‘symbolic’ protests outside the offices of SERCO on 27 June and MEARS on 29 June to warn them not to go ahead with the evictions. Glasgow FRFI supported both of these protests. A Glasgow No Evictions campaign was set up in June. According to the campaigns page its ‘No Evictions Network’ was ‘formed from groups like MORE, The Unity Centre and Living Rent, along with a number of individuals and current Serco tenants’. Its reported that a number of stalls have been carried out by the campaign so far. Phone trees to resist the evictions are being built, with the details of thousands of people already gathered by Living Rent (sign up here). The Glasgow No Evictions campaign’s first public meeting has been called for Thursday 4 July, 6 – 8pm, at the Glasgow Autonomous Space (see event here). Glasgow FRFI will be supporting this.
The heavy Police Scotland presence at both Living Rent protests confirms once again that confrontation with the racist British state, its partners and defenders is necessary if racist evictions are to be effectively opposed. In order to best prepare and organise ourselves for this we need open, democratic and non-sectarian methods of organising and protest which will allow the maximum forces to unite around and join militant demands to resist all evictions and to defend those inevitably criminalised for doing so. So far Living Rent protests have operated closed platforms and the No Evictions campaign has called public campaign meetings at short notice with only 2 days notice given for the public meeting coming up. This makes it harder to get more people involved.
The issue of racist evictions at the hands of private companies, backed by the British state, is not going to go away. The private company MEARS has been awarded the lucrative £1bn ten-year contract to house asylum seekers and refugees in Scotland, the north of Ireland, North East England, Yorkshire and the Humber from September 2019. MEARS have stated that SERCO homes must be cleared of their inhabitants before they take them over. As a result of the pressure brought on them so far Living Rent have been invited by MEARS to a meeting to discuss the matter. Meanwhile SERCO have been awarded another £1.9bn contract for the housing of around 20,000 asylum seekers living in the North West England, the Midlands and East of England regions.
Glasgow Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! will continue to support protest and organisation against these racist evictions, pushing for open democratic space within these protests for all anti-racist and anti-imperialist voices to be heard, and for the expansion of the protests into wider layers of the working class in Britain resisting attacks on living standards, Universal Credit and the evictions resulting from these.
A song written by one of our supporters to protest against the racist evictions in Glasgow is here
SERCO, SERCO Out of Glasgow!
Here to stay, here to fight, housing is a human right!
No to Britain’s racist immigration system!
Scrap Universal credit!
Resist all evictions!