For regular updates on campaigns against G4S and other private security armies see http://notog4s.blogspot.co.uk/
Stop G4S Campaign Update May 14th
“Researching Privatisation: the case of G4S and Asylum Housing” Conference
Thursday May 17th 10-4pm in Leeds. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details
SYMAAG “Stop G4S” working group meeting
Thursday May 24th at Scotia Works, Leadmill Road, Sheffield S1 4SE at 6.30pm
Latest media coverage
Marishka Van Steenbergen has written another article for the Guardian Northerner blog on opposition in Sheffield to G4S’s asylum housing takeover
The Financial Times article on G4S and asylum housing is now available online
Stop G4S Campaign Update May 2nd
- Sheffield’s Marishka Van Steenbergen has blogged about the privatisation of asylum housing in Sheffield and the City Council’s response to this on her blog. Marishka has also written on asylum-related issues for the Guardian Northerner section.
- Now Then magazine, February issue. Excellent article on the campaign against G4S housing asylum seekers (and another on the elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo including an interview with Bavwidi Mpanzu aka Djoly)
- Guardian 17th April: journalist James Legge worked with SYMAAG’s campaign and wrote “Fears of upheaval as firm facing probe over asylum seeker’s death wins housing deal” article. James has also written about the campaign on his blog “Hammer and Tongs”
- Financial Times 22nd March contacted SYMAAG and Northern Refugee Centre for an article (available only on subscription!) titled “Private Groups scoop £620m asylum seeker contracts”. Paul O’Connor of the PCS union told the FT reporter “None of these services should be contracted, they should be run by the state, that’s how people are going to be the safest”.
- John Grayson was interviewed again by Rony Robinson on Radio Sheffield on March 28th
- The excellent “No to G4S” blogspot continues to cover developments with G4S, but also with the other 2 UKBA asylum housing contract winners, Serco and Reliance, whose records rival G4S in their abuse of asylum seekers. A Guardian article of April 13th on Reliance Security showed not just Reliance’s record of racism and abuse of asylum seekers but UKBA’s apparent collaboration in it.
- Meanwhile, SYMAAG’s prolific John Grayson has written more analysis of the campaign against G4S and the issues it raises. “First They Came For the Asylum Seeker…” for the Institute of Race Relations” looks at how private companies use asylum seekers to test the limits of what they can get away with and still turn a profit. John’s also written about the xenophobia of the Coalition Government’s politics and how racism is whipped up for short-term electoral gain by the major UK parties
Stop G4S Campaign Update 28th February
New “Stop G4S blog” launched……..
- Meeting G4S: 24/2/12. Clearly hurt by our description of them as “the world’s largest private security army” G4S asked for a meeting with some of those people who signed the original letter of protest, published in the Yorkshire Post, and SYMAAG campaigners so that they could put us right on our “incorrect and uninformed views” about the unsuitability of using a private prison guard company to house asylum seekers. In the meeting, GS4 managers talked about their plans for the “asylum market” and – more than once – explained “our objective is to make a return for our shareholders”. In an email following the meeting a G4S manager told us: “G4S hope that your views of us delivering the COMPASS contract have changed as a result of our meeting and that you feel able to amend your commentary accordingly both previously and going forward.” At least they’ve got a sense of humour. We can however agree with another G4S post-meeting statement though: “I also hope that our meeting gave all a better understanding of how G4S intend approaching the delivery of services”. Yes indeed, that’s why we think it’s important to keep up the pressure on G4S and UKBA. One way to do that is come to the demonstration on March 1st outside Sheffield Town Hall at 12.30.
For a blow-by-blow account of the correspondence between the campaign and G4S see these reports on the Institute of Race Relations website
- Campaign analysis: SYMAAG’s prolific John Grayson has had another article (“G4S turns a profit in ‘asylum markets': who’s speaking out and who’s lips are sealed?”) about the response to G4S’ attempt to privatise asylum housing on the Open Democracy website
- Children’s welfare: One of the biggest concerns about the privatisation of asylum housing is the damage and disruption it will cause when children are moved out of their schools as G4S seek to re-house people in ever-cheaper accomodation. In response SYMAAG has contacted a number of campaigning groups, including the Children’s Society and submitted a joint letter to a number of Local Safeguarding Children Boards. Letters can be downloaded here Sheffield LSCB and here Barnsley LSCB
Stop G4S Demonstration Success
About 70 people came, at short notice, to the demonstration today (Feb 15th) in Sheffield to stop G4S winning the regional contract to house asylum seekers.
Asylum seekers and refugees were joined by trade unionists, people from faith groups and campaigners. Refugees expressed their disbelief that G4S should even be considered for the role of housing asylum seekers while awaiting manslaughter charges for the death of Jimmy Mubenga last year. Trade unionists from the local government union Unison explained that they opposed the privatisation of asylum housing because it would mean job losses for them as well as misery for asylum seekers. A member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign pointed out G4S’s role in funding the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
Many people made the point that there is no “economic crisis” for G4S (global profits in 2010 of £527 million) and life for their CEO Nick Buckles is not exactly a struggle with his £2.4m (plus bonus) a year.
Hundreds of leaflets were given out (available to download – see below) to passers’ by and (with only two exceptions that I saw) people were generally supportive: it’s not hard to make the case against privatisation and profit-hungry multinationals in Sheffield. And we do have a relatively good record of welcoming people fleeing persecution – ask members of Sheffield’s Chilean community who mostly came here in the 1970’s.
We marched through the centre of Sheffield, down Fargate past Castle Market and ended up outside Vulcan House, the regional HQ of the UK Border Agency. More speeches there, including from the famous Outtarra, now a refugee. He didn’t really need to use the megaphone…It was good to be there protesting as asylum seekers went on with the business of reporting to Vulcan House, every time facing the possibility that they could be detained.
We finished things off by Djoly Mpanzu formally handing over a petition (also available to download) to a UKBA manager. The petition read “We the undersigned believe that people seeking asylum deserve decent housing and respect like everyone else. We do not think that G4S can provide either. G4S should not be paid public money to house asylum seekers in Yorkshire and Humberside”.
Media coverage of the march was good: the Sheffield Star (having advertised the demo for us) took pictures (see here) and Radio Sheffield interviewed a number of us for a feature broadcast at 1 hour 20 minutes into the Dean Peppall show today. There’s also a report on the Radio Sheffield website. There’s also a couple of Facebook pages about today’s demo and the campaign as a whole.
David Price from SYMAAG and Robert Sponner from ASSIST were also interviewed for the Economic Survivor blog. There’s a report with a You Tube film and interviews with Outtarra and others here. Interview with SYMAAG’s John Grayson here
STOP Prison Guards Housing Asylum Seekers leaflet available for download
G4S demo flyerx2 available for download
Stop G4S petition available for download