Byron Hamburgers: Branch closed as crowds protest against immigration swoop

A London branch of Byron Hamburgers has closed as campaigners lined the pavement outside to protest the company's role in an immigration swoop.

Police officers lined the front of the Holborn branch in central London as the crowd hit out at the restaurant chain's handling of the incident after they worked with the Home Office to round up 35 employees who were then detained by immigration officials.

A woman holds up a sign outside a Byron restaurant in Holborn, central London, as people protest after dozens of workers at the burger chain were arrested in a swoop by immigration officials.
(Yui Mok/PA)

The chain was accused of "underhand entrapment" of its workers and many people tweeted that they would boycott the burger restaurant.

A Facebook page about the protest says: "Byron have acted shamefully and have made an example of themselves as a deeply disrespectful employer.

"Our protest aims to shine a spotlight on this unethical behaviour, deter it from happening anywhere else, and to support workers still working at the restaurants to resist exploitation."

Protest co-ordinator Ewa Jasiewicz, of Unite's hotel workers' branch, criticised the company's "unacceptable" role in the deportations.

She said: "The law doesn't tell Byron to entrap workers, to lure them into a trap, to trick them into coming into work when actually they are being raided and they are going to be deported.

"A responsible employer that values the people that work for them, that make them their profits, would actually support them to get the right papers, to help them stay.

"They were literally discarded like bags of rubbish. It's completely unacceptable. How they behaved might have been legal but it's not ethical."

Jasiewicz added: "From the way they behave, we really doubt the kind of employer they are in terms of respecting workers' rights. They need to clean up their act."

Last week, the Home Office said 35 people from Albania, Brazil, Nepal and Egypt were arrested for immigration offences at a number of restaurants across London, following an operation carried out with the "full co-operation" of Byron in July.

The burger business carried out the correct "right to work" checks on staff members, but had been shown false or counterfeit documentation, and will therefore not face civil penalty action, the Home Office said.

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