August 18, 2006 10:15 ET

Strike at Refugee Centre in Cambridgeshire

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - Aug. 18, 2006) - Amicus members will be staging a strike at Oakington Detention Centre near Cambridge next Tuesday (22nd August).

Amicus members, employed by the Refugee Legal Centre (RLC's) to provide legal representation to asylum seekers detained at Oakington will be striking in protest at the RLC's failure to abide by its Redundancy Policy.

95% of Amicus' members at Oakington voted in favour of industrial action in a ballot conducted earlier this month after fourteen early redundancies were made in July without consultation with the union. Employees are also being redeployed from the site and up to twenty more face losing their jobs at the end of September.

Amicus Regional Officer, Sarah Carpenter, said: "In recent months management has repeatedly breached its own Redundancy Policy negotiated with the union in 2002. It has not behaved like a responsible employer and certainly not like one that won an award last year for defending human rights."

"Oakington staff at risk of redundancy should have been provided with the training needed to secure redeployment to other posts in the RLC and vacancies which should have been ring fenced for staff at risk of redundancy have been offered to other applicants.

"There was no consultation with Amicus, the recognised union in the RLC before the union before early redundancies were brought forward in July and there has been no consultation with the union before the RLC's recent unsuccessful bid to secure an extension of its contract at Oakington from its funders the Legal Services Commission.

"As well as flouting its own redundancy policy, Oakington management has shown no enthusiasm about securing funding for the future of the Refugee Legal Centre on site - even though it would have saved over thirty jobs and it is what the Home Office wants and need.

"There's a real hypocrisy at work here. This is a human rights organisation that is abandoning agreed policies and sacrificing people when it suits them which is exactly what our members at Oakington seek to defend their clients from."

In June the Home Office decided to convert Oakington from a centre for fast tracking asylum claims into an ordinary detention centre. On Wednesday this week the Legal Services Commission decided that the contract for providing a legal service to those six asylum seekers per day after the end of September would be awarded to the Immigration Advisory Service, the other organisation on site at Oakington which provides a legal service to detained asylum seekers.

A picket line will be in place on Tuesday between 8.30 am and 10.30 am. The adrress is Oakingotn Barracks, Oakington Immigration Detention Centre, Longstanton, near Cambridgeshire, CB4 4IJ.
Amicus says the plans for Oakington fly in the face of the Home Offices immigration policy. The sites future as a detention centre is also uncertain but is likely to stay open until 2008 and perhaps up until 2011. Oakington Detention Centre was opened in 2000 in order to process asylum claims within a week.

The RLC, which is a national organisation, has a record of challenging Home Office decisions on Immigration. Last year the RLC won the Liberty award for defending Human Rights which is awarded by Liberty, Amnesty and the Law Society.

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For further information please contact Catherine Bithell in the Amicus Press Office on 020 7 420 8909 or 07958 473 224

Contact Information

  • Amicus Press Office
    Catherine Bithell
    020 7 420 8909
    07958 473 224