Burger restaurant chain Byron has come under fire after it has been reported that in early July its London managers held a training exercise that served as a front for immigration control to interview and arrest a number of its migrant staff members.
The Spanish language website El Iberico quotes a source from within Byron that says on 4 July, Byron migrant workers from as many as 15 of its branches were brought to a secret location under the belief that they were undergoing training. Within minutes, immigration officers arrived with photographs and names of migrant staff members, predominantly from Latin America.
The fact that the officers already had names and photographs suggests strongly that they had already been colluding with managers. Apparently, this is exactly the case. A manager reportedly said:
We know what’s going on and all this was prepared. This is not training.
According to the source, as many as 50 workers may have been deported following the action on 4 July. They believe that as many 150 evaded arrest, but may currently be in hiding.
For migrant workers across the UK, Prime Minister Theresa May’s words as Home Secretary will no doubt be ringing in their ears.
When immigration is too high, when the pace of change is too fast, it’s impossible to build a cohesive society.
Wiping their hands
While those employed at Byron might not have had the required documentation, it is the obligation of the employer to ensure that these are in order before hiring. According to the witness quoted in El Iberico, the restaurant chain knows this all too well – when asked for an explanation, the manager that had organised the fake training exercise reportedly said “the company would go bankrupt” if it had to pay a fine for every employee in the country without correct paperwork.
The source estimates that as many as 100 such workers may be employed in the company’s London branches alone.
When approached for comment by The Canary, Byron could not be reached. According to quotes elsewhere, the burger chain has explained:
We have a long and close collaboration with the Home Office.
Looking at other reports, Byron are not the only ones. The East London Revolutionary Communist Group describes a witness account from a member of Deliveroo staff describing how police, immigration officers and DWP officers entered the office:
Police were searching for drugs, immigration and passport control were looking for undocumented migrants and DWP were looking for people ‘illegally claiming benefits’.
As in the Byron case, officers came armed with staff photographs and names already, strongly suggesting collaboration with staff. In both cases, it is uncertain whether the workers were paid any monies owed to them by the company before they were deported.
It can be assumed that neither corporation received their fine.
Featured image via Flickr/Ewan Munro.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?