Mitie profits from Campsfield House
Blogging around the campaigns- NCADC volunteers explore some of the latest issue affecting migrant rights
25 February 2011
David Shortland, NCADC Campaigns Volunteer
We all hoped that the Home Office might learn its lesson after the scandalous treatment of Jimmy Mubenga late last year by security company G4S, which led to his death. Indeed, in the aftermath, G4S lost its bid to renew a contract with the Home Office to forcibly deport foreign nationals. Sadly though, the responsibility of carrying out forced removals has merely been transferred to another corporation. When the G4S contract expires in April 2011, Reliance Security Task Management Ltd will pick up where they leave off.
In other areas, the trend of outsourcing continues. Another company about to line its pocket with profits from the migration control industry is Mitie. The Bristol-based company has just been awarded a £27 million contract to manage the Campsfield House immigration removal centre in Oxford. The Campaign to Close Campsfield has been organising protests against the imprisonment of migrants since the centre opened eleven years ago and its members are anything but impressed with the new management.
Campaign spokesperson Bill MacKeith said: “Mitie is like other outsourcing companies. They specialise in taking over a service and then squeezing it for profit; finding more ways to exploit staff or cut corners. In our case, a juicy ‘corner’ to be cut could be the migrants wrongfully imprisoned in Campsfield, who provide more or less forced or virtual slave labour for just £5 a day.”
Indeed, Mitie’s reputation precedes it. It is unsettlingly common for companies to knowingly hire workers without documents and then use their status as a point of control in the workplace, and Mitie has become infamous for its exploitation of undocumented migrant employees. When undocumented workers employed by the company attempted to unionise, Mitie turned over their details to the UKBA, claiming that it had not been previously aware of the legal status of the employees. In a particularly disturbing incident, several undocumented workers recall being lined up in a room by the management and insulted and interrogated by police officers. The management and police officers then proceeded in “making comments and laughing enthusiastically, making fun of the workers” (The Commune Blog).
The choice of Mitie to operate the centre is also disturbing considering the company’s lack of experience in the management of immigration detention centres. Unfortunately it seems that Mitie has won the bid after proposing the cheapest contract, rather than for its experience. The company has not kept secret its opinions on public sector cuts in the UK. In fact, Chief Executive Ruby McGregor-Smith was one of the 35 bosses who signed a letter to the Telegraph last October, backing the government’s public spending cuts in the interests of “a healthier and more stable economy” and commenting on the “significant opportunities for the outsourcing market” that will result.
It is the position of NCADC that migrants in the UK – often fleeing persecution, war and poverty – should never be locked up in immigration prisons. There is no need for places like Campsfield House, and there can be no justification for handing over management of an operation as sensitive, and as vulnerable to abuse, as immigration detention to a private company. Mitie has made explicit its focus on profit-making and, through its action, has demonstrated thorough disrespect for the rights of migrants.
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There is a demonstration outside Campsfield on the last Saturday of every month.
Next demo – Saturday 26th Feb 2011
12 – 2 pm. Main gates, Campsfield House.
All welcome – show your support for the detainees.
For more information, go to http://closecampsfield.wordpress.com