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Byron faces more protests around the country

08 August 2016 by
Byron faces more protests around the country

Burger restaurant chain Byron has seen more low-key protests outside its restaurants over the weekend, as the fallout from the removal of 35 employees said to be working illegally continued.

Activists appeared outside the Byron restaurant on Grey Street in Newcastle on Saturday, organised by Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism North East.

Demonstrators also held a small protest outside Byron on George Street in Oxford and held up placards between 5pm and 7pm on Saturday.

And Byron in Edinburgh was reported to be the target of protestors on Friday 5 August.

The protests are in response to operations by immigration enforcement officers carried out "intelligence-led visits" to a number of Byron restaurants on 4 July and removed 35 staff from Albania, Brazil, Nepal and Egypt in order to "progress their removal from the UK".

The operations were carried out with the full co-operation of the Byron business.

A spokesperson for the Home Office said that Byron had carried out the correct "right to work" checks on staff, but had been shown false or counterfeit documentation and therefore will not face civil penalty action.

However, the compliance of Byron in the operation to remove staff led to a backlash on social media with the hastag #BoycottByron trending on Twitter.

That prompted protests in London at the start of this month when demonstrators released live insects in Byron's St Giles and Holborn sites, temporarily closing the restaurants.

Last week, a former worker at the chain told the BBC's Today programme that he felt "used".

Rafa, a 24-year-old Brazilian who admitted using false documents to get the job, was one of those called to a meeting on 4 July where immigration staff arrested him. "They used us and threw us away," he said.

However, speaking on Tuesday last week, restaurateur Oliver Peyton defended Byron and said the reaction to the chain's treatment of illegal immigrants was "hysteria" and that it was a good company.

Byron, which operates 65 sites around the UK, has responded by issuing the following statement:

"Byron was unaware that any of our workers were in possession of counterfeit documentation until the Home Office brought it to our attention. The Home Office recognises that Byron as an employer has always been fully compliant with immigration and asylum law in its employment practices.

"We carry out rigorous ‘right to work' checks, but sophisticated counterfeit documentation was used in order to pass these checks. We have cooperated fully and acted upon the Home Office's requests and processes throughout the course of their investigation: it is our legal obligation to do so."

Activists release insects in two London branches of Byron >>

Byron supports Home Office removal of 35 staff working "illegally" >>

Openings drive Byron turnover increase >>

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