Lobbing a spanner into the deportation machine
During a Week of Action Against the Deportation Machine, called by the Stop Deportation network, campaigners targeted a number of private deportation profiteers, including British Airways and Carlson Wagonlit Travel.
On 3rd June, a travel agents contracted by the UK Border Agency to arrange the forcible deportation of migrants was awarded the title of ‘Deportation Profiteer of the Year’. Campaigners from the Stop Deportation Network presented Carlson Wagonlit Travel with the award at its main offices in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire.
In April 2010, CWT won a government contract to book seats on scheduled and chartered flights for immigration detainees due for deportation. The global booking agency, which specialises in business travel management, has been used by the UKBA to do what campaigners described as a “dirty business” since 2004. In the financial year 2004-5, the contract was worth almost £23million.
An online campaign against CWT, called by the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns, had already started in the morning, so all office doors were locked and protesters were met with rude and abusive attitudes by some CWT employees.
Campaigners and supporters who wrote to the company protesting against its profiting from flying people forcibly back to the countries they had fled have since received replies from the CWT’s executive vice president, Andrew Waller, saying they cannot discuss the details of their contract with the UKBA with a third party.
On 4th June, the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns launched a one-day online campaign against British Airways for being ‘a frequent flier of forced removals’.
In 2008, the airline was boycotted by many Nigerians after it ejected 136 passengers who complained about the treatment of a deportee who was screaming for help. One of the passengers was arrested and was later found not guilty in court but is still banned from BA for life.
BA claims it “obliged” to carry out deportees, but that is clearly not true as other airlines, including XL Airways and Air Italy, have stopped carrying deportees on board their planes in the past following sustained campaigns against them.
BA is currently being exposed over its treatment of workers and staff. It is perhaps a good time to highlight the company’s other deplorable behaviour, such as its treatment of migrants.
For a round-up of protests and actions during the Week of Action, see http://stopdeportation.net/node/51.