There was chaos at two London branches of Byron Burger on Friday evening as protesters angry at allegations the chain helped deport its own staff, released thousands of cockroaches, locusts and crickets.
Both were apparently forced to close.
The upmarket burger restaurant was condemned earlier this week and accused of “underhand trickery” after it was alleged it helped the Home Office deported some staff from its London restaurants.
There were also separate #boycottbyron demonstrations at the two sites.
London Black Revs and the Malcolm X Movement told The Huffington Post UK:
“London Black Revs and the *Malcolm X Movement* have affirmative against Byron restaurants chain in response to the Byron restaurants chains despicable actions in the past weeks having entrapped waiters, back of house staff and chefs in collaboration with UK Boarder Agency.
”Some 35 staff members who, many of whom were led off in handcuffs and have been deported out of the country, while hundreds more are hiding in fear. They have released many thousands of live cockroaches, locusts and crickets into these restaurants. We apologise to customers and staff
for any irritation, however, we had to act as forced deportations such as
this and others are unacceptable, we must defend these people and their
families from such dehumanised treatment. Byrons’ a company that has made millions off the backs of migrant labour has duped in its own workers.
”In a context of a unelected new Tory government that is the most vicious
and right wing government in living memory, and in the context of growing
racist and even fascist oriented policies encouraging and fostering mass resentiment, racism and xenophobia towards ethnic and migrant communities. The MXM and LBRs decided we had
to take some clear action to remind our communities we have the ability to
strategically defend ourselves under this growing repression and
exploitation in the face of adversity.
”UK government minister David Davis is arguing for fascist policies that
even far-right and fascist organisations stopped campaigning for decades
ago in his advocacy of forced mass deportation of migrants and a minister in the German Bavarian government is also advocating forced
mass deportation of migrants
”The Brexit victory was a massive boost to anti-immigrant hate and racism,
Trump is ascendant in the USA, fascist parties are about to win national
elections in France and in Austria.
”We as immigrant communities, Black, African, Asian, Latin American
communities must all unite and defeat this growing menace that is before
us, otherwise our very future as communities inside the ‘West’ is in direct
”This growing racist and fascist policies, political discussion and
atmosphere is taking this colonial and capitalist system into deeper crises
were wars abroad and further repression at home will be increasing unless
immigrant and allied communities halt this march of oppression. It’s a
great challenge before us, but the stakes are increasingly higher for our
communities and our families and communities in Africa, Asia, Latin America and East Europe.
”The deceptive actions of Byron is in line with this growing far-right
repression of the state. The very immigrant labour that has since the
medieval times been a necessary part of our societies to function, the very
ones who cook, serve our food, clean up after the nation and much much more and the ones being targeted the most. LBRs and MXM stand in solidarity with them, and consider our immigrant communities one of the first communities we should be defending and they should be in the lead of a working class and oppressed peoples struggle against colonialism and capitalism.
”Our intentions of this action were to:
”1. Make Byron pay for their horrifically exploitative misdeeds.
”2. To inspire others to ensure Byron is shut down until they either go out
of business and, they apologise to those staff impacted especially the
deportees, and compensate them and their families according to sums the
victims decide including any remaining wages, overtime or holiday pay due.
”3. Serve as a warning to other businesses in the hospitality and catering industry that you will be targeted
by those who stand in solidarity with immigrants if you entrap migrant workers.
”4. We warn all immigrant communities and families that now
is the time to stand up, unite, organise and push back and defeat this
upsurge of anti-immigrant racism and oppression.
”We apologise to customers and staff for any irritation, however, with the growing climate of racism and xenophobia, a line must be drawn and we say, enough is enough. No one is illegal. We’ve acted today in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are being deported daily. If you stand in solidarity against the underhand entrapment of its workers that Byron has carried out. You should support the actions in defence of migrant workers and refugees.”
The Home Office added that the operation was carried out with the “full co-operation” of Byron earlier this month. A spokesman for the Home Office dismissed reports that an event was set up to lure workers to one place for immigration officials.
London Black Revs describe themselves as:
London Black Revs is a self-determined working class URBAN revolutionary organisation. Our principles and offensives range from anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic and anti-fascist campaigns and operations. We are a democratic-militant organisation that encourages self-leadership but strictly adheres to fighting oppression and exploitation in non-abstract forms. We combine practical versatility, modern methods for organising, self-emancipation, direct action, militant defensive’s and offensives and full commitment to the struggle as cornerstones of London Black Revolutionaries. Our organisation is for those who see nothing else but struggle and will not settle for anything less than a world rid of oppression and exploitation. We see the struggles of race, class, gender and sexuality bound together, as such, they must be fought through the ‘united offensive’ on oppression.
Many people however questioned if Byron had done anything wrong.
Byron released a statement earlier in the week saying:
We can confirm that:
- This operation was led by the Home Office
- Byron was unaware that any of our workers were in possession of counterfeit documentation until the Home Office brought it to our attention, despite carrying out rigorous ‘right to work’ checks
- We have cooperated fully with the requests of the Home Office throughout this investigation
Please see our full statement, below:
We can confirm that several of Byron’s London restaurants were visited by representatives of the Home Office. These visits resulted in the removal of members of staff who are suspected by the Home Office of not having the right to work in the UK, and of possessing fraudulent personal and right to work documentation that is in breach of immigration and employment regulation.
The Home Office recognises that Byron as an employer is fully compliant with immigration and asylum law in its employment practices, and that Byron had carried out the correct ‘right to work’ checks on staff members, but had been shown false/counterfeit documentation.
At Byron we are proud of the diversity of our restaurant teams, built around people of all backgrounds and all walks of life.
We have cooperated fully and acted upon the Home Office’s requests throughout the course of the investigations leading to this action, and will continue to do so.
Byron's head office was unavailable to comment on the cockroach incident.