After months of legal challenges, and in the face of widespread public disgust, the multinational giant SERCO has announced its intention to begin the mass eviction of asylum seekers in the city of Glasgow.
Living Rent is committed to resisting this policy of forced destitution by any means necessary. As a union of tenants, we are ready to go on the offensive to defend our neighbours and our communities. It is up to the courts, Glasgow City Council and the Scottish government to decide where they stand, and back up words with real action. Our position is clear.
In September 2019, SERCO’s Home Office contract to house asylum seekers will come to an end, in part as a result of the pressure exerted by public campaigning led by Living Rent and others. The Mears Group has secured the tender for the new contract, yet in practice nothing is changing. Mears are refusing to find a solution to housing the 300 tenants under threat, enabling SERCO to carry out its campaign of forced eviction. Throughout, millions of pounds in profit have been made by the companies involved, as well as by private landlords.
The struggle to prevent SERCO’s lock changes - evictions carried out without legal process - is a crucial one for the whole of Glasgow. The immediate crisis is clear: with no emergency accommodation in place, and homelessness and asylum seeker support services at breaking point, hundreds of people now face being thrown onto the streets in total destitution. Long term, if we allow multinational corporations, bailiffs and private landlords to successfully carry out this level of violence in the face of mass public opposition, it sets a dangerous precedent for evictions in the future.
Living Rent is already prepared to resist. On Monday 17 June, SERCO will begin its first wave of evictions, aiming to carry out thirty lock changes a week. SERCO tenants will be issued notice periods of 21 days, 7 days and 24 hours. We have neighbourhood groups across the city on alert ready to meet this threat, and a wider network of 3,500 people ready to defend the doors if necessary.
Our planning teams have identified targets, allies, weak spots and pressure points in the system, ready to put SERCO, Mears Group, the Home Office and others under maximum strain. For every door they go through, we go through one of theirs. Every business interest of theirs is of interest to us. Just as they have made Glasgow a hostile environment for asylum seekers, we will make Glasgow a hostile environment for them.
When Glasgow defeated dawn raids in the past, it was through the solidarity of working class communities, through physical resistance on the doors and dawn watches on the tops of tower blocks, through education, agitation and action. We have defeated SERCO before and we will defeat them again.
We call on everyone to engage, challenge and organise against these evictions.