The presence of South Asian characters in British theatre is not the extreme rarity it once was. Whilst South Asians and people of colour more widely are still hugely underrepresented in theatre – as actors, writers, directors and in storylines – there has undoubtedly been some progress in recent years. What remains less visible, however, is South Asian characters engaging in rich discussions of history in all its complexity, from a questioning, left-wing perspective. If this is not for you, you should probably avoid playwright and Momentum activist Sonali Bhattacharyya’s Two Billion Beats, showing now at London’s Orange Tree Theatre.
Content warning: mentions sexual harassment, homophobic abuse
This week, the KCL Justice for Cleaners Campaign released a short film revealing the struggles of migrant cleaners at King’s College London, a day before management made a recommendation to the College Council as to whether to end the outsourcing of cleaning. Through the film, cleaners speak in their own words about the violence of the outsourcing model and how mistreatment at KCL is normalised.
Yesterday, on the 8th anniversary of the deportation of 9 SOAS cleaners, students of SOAS began an occupation of the Directorate on the Main Building first floor. We are taking direct action in resistance to the planned shut down of the refectory and outrageous threats made by management to the livelihoods of members of our community. We stand in solidarity with the catering staff, and all the exploited workers of SOAS, in their fight for dignity and respect.
by Robyn Banks
“Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or engineer.”- Mikhail Bakunin
There’s a new buzzword in the air. We are now living, it is claimed, in a post-factual or post-truth society, where facts no longer matter to the general public. At face value it seems like a bizarre claim. But while politicians and the media have always lied to the public, if you consider the audacity of the lies of the last decade in contrast to the sheer number of tools available to us to find out the truth, you begin to see the point.
In May 2016, Birmingham City University announced it will be accepting applications for its new degree in ‘Black Studies’— the first of its kind in Europe. The course is said to be an interdisciplinary area of study that will look into migration of the African diaspora, black scholars, and the effects of economics within black communities. Estimated to parallel the popular and esteemed African-American study programmes present at the likes of Yale, Harvard, and Howard University, this programme is finally addressing an underlying problem within British education. More specifically, why black voices have long been ignored or overridden in academic spheres. As a Birmingham native, I have never been more proud to witness this advancement, but we cannot stand by the belief that its implementation is enough.
by Sahaya James
Harmondsworth detention centre, near Heathrow, is set in an anonymous business park. You can only tell it’s a detention centre because of the barbed wire.
Campsfield detention centre, near Oxford, is accessible by a nondescript turning on a nondescript a-road. The whole site is ringed by a line of trees.
Yarl’s Wood, however, is even more hidden than the rest. It sits hundreds of meters back from the road, behind a double layer of fencing, miles and miles out into the Bedfordshire countryside.
It is, essentially, a prison. Like every detention centre, it doesn’t contain people accused and convicted of crimes — it contains people without UK passports. Specifically, Yarlswood contains women and children.
Despite having achieved the benefits of sick pay, holiday pay and pensions in April 2014, we expected to have opportunities to do overtime jobs that were denied because of favouritism exercised by the previous ISS site manager.
In March 2015 a new ISS site manager came to SOAS, and we continue with the expectation of how it will be solved. The problems carry over for many years, but the situation has not changed, instead of giving opportunities to the current staff to do additional/overtime hours when the permanent staff are off sick or on annual leave, now ISS management are contracting external agency staff with zero hours contracts and that was not the goal of our J4C campaign to have a workforce at SOAS with different terms and conditions.
by Justice for Cleaners SOAS
The Justice for Cleaners SOAS campaign is led by the cleaning staff at SOAS, with the support of students and university staff. The cleaners campaign began in 2006, and in 2008 won decent London living wage. Last year, after a series of strikes, the campaign won their demands for sick pay, holiday pay, and pensions.
However, the campaign has not yet won their key demand of the cleaning staff, which is to be brought back in house (to work directly to SOAS instead of a subcontractor). Since the early 1990s SOAS cleaners have been subcontracted by a succession of private companies, all of which have been allegations of victimization and intimidation of the cleaning staff, including persecution of the J4C campaigners and trade union representatives, and through attempts to undermine working conditions.