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On Monday,  No Borders activists from South Wales, Bristol, and Oxford joined with members of the Campaign Against Immigration Controls to make a horrible noise with drums, olive oil tins, a symbol and two megaphones in a noise demo outside the HQ of Amey PLC in Oxford. Whilst No Borders North East held a solidarity picket outside the company’s Newcastle HQ.

The protest went on for three hours, the noise visibly disrupting Amey’s working day. Though security guards initially asked for protesters to leave, no police were called, it appears the company simply do not want the attention that would bring. Employees were  leafleted as they left the office and there was a banner drop from the nearby car park.


These protests are part of a campaign against Amey Plc. In September 2008 five Colombian cleaners working for Amey at the National Physical Laboratory were suspended for criticising the company, they have since been sacked. Amey Plc have worked hand in glove with the immigration authorities, asking ‘disruptive’ workers to attend fake training sessions, which turn out to be ‘snatch sessions’ for UKBA agents and police, leading to deportation and detention.

This case is a typical example of how companies make an increased profit by exploiting the precarious situation migrant workers currently face. The full background story explains the importance of this dispute.

“this small story is a perfect lesson in how migration controls work, and what role they play in the economy. It’s clear that, in order to take the contract at NPL, Amey had to make a bid stating that it could do the same work as the previous company for less money. This “race to the bottom” is the way the market works.

But how can a company do the same work for less? By keeping wages down, enforcing a bigger workload on less workers, using agency workers (mostly hired as “self-employed” “one-person companies”) that have no rights and aren’t given the appropriate training. How can they get away with this?

By counting on a workforce that is not aware of its labour rights, who has less options in the work market, or is too precarious or afraid to challenge their conditions. In other words, the migrant worker who has little or no support network in this country, and whose visa status can often be irregular, is the ideal worker for companies like Amey: the guarantee that they can keep on racing to the bottom.”


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