A couple of days before the recent European Election I was having dinner with a friend and her daughter. My friend's daughter suddenly announced that she would probably not vote in the coming election. No amount of argument about the need to vote to keep the BNP out could convince her that she should put her cross against the name of any of the parities. She was adamant that nothing that any of them had to say reflected her views on what needed to happen in the world. I found out that this was an experience shared by other Trade Union colleagues who had been trying to persuade people to vote in order to keep the fascists out.
Undoubtedly the scandal of MP's of all parties fiddling their expenses had the effect of working class voters either staying away or registering a protest vote by voting for minority parties because they did not trust politicians anymore. In the North West and Yorkshire and Humberside constituencies where the BNP won MEP seats the number of people who voted for them was less than the numbers who voted for them in the last European elections. They won in both areas because of the total collapse of the working class labour vote.
Much has been made of the disaffection of the white section of the working class community and their concerns over migration and immigration. However I suspect that the same low turnout was probably reflected in the black communities in those areas who are equally susceptible to the constant background noise insinuating that migrant workers and immigrants from Eastern Europe and elsewhere are threatening to take their homes jobs and public services. Black voters appear to be equally disillusioned with the mainstream parties and the political machinery.
Such impressions were reinforced during the election campaign with the media, television and newspapers, using the excuse of political balance and free speech, gave the BNP a disproportionate amount of coverage for a party for their size to comment - on a supposedly legitimate basis - about issues of migration, immigration and racism.
The weeks leading up to the election had seen a stream of newspaper and TV coverage of the expenses scandal pushing the line that British democracy was in a crisis because the trust between MP's and voters had been broken. The reality is the British democracy has been in crisis for a couple of decades for two reasons. Firstly people started to trust politicians and believe that politics and democracy was just about the political parties, what happened in the House of Commons and whose name they put their cross against at election time. Secondly, we had all watched whilst people power was reinterpreted as being consulted while the machinery in our political system for electors ensuring accountability was whittled away. No longer can you go to the Council, Health Authority or Education Authority meeting to lobby those elected representatives responsible if you do not like the treatment or service you receive. Instead we have seen the creation of yet more quango's overseen by appointees that meet in secret and thousands of consultations from both local and national Government conducted on the basis that we agree with fundamentals of the actions that they are taking and they are desperate for our advice on how to implement their proposals. That is not democracy.
As black trade unionists we have a political challenge to deal with the politics of division which are beginning to infect our communities. We need to remind people that what is being said about modern day migrants was being said about us when we came to this country. That the experience of suffering super exploitation in the workplace may not be experienced by our communities in such an extreme way, but that the exploitation that our communities once experienced as new migrants is now being suffered by current migrants and that only through solidarity can we ensure that this level of exploitation is banished and is not used to undermine our communities. That only through organising to engage with political parties and government structures did we manage to get tackling race discrimination onto the political agenda.
Finally we must learn the real lesson from this scandal which is that the powerful can only be made to act in our interests if we are prepared to participate both inside and outside of the confines of the political machinery to make them accountable. If we allow others to make the running and believe that we have the luxury of being able to be disillusioned and uninvolved than parties like the BNP will influence the agenda and have a major influence in deciding our future for us.
Trade Unionists and Students react against Immigration Raids
Without any advance warning from their ISS bosses or the university management, cleaning staff at the University of London's School of Oriental African Studies (SOAS) were confronted by a hefty team of immigration officers at 6.30am on Friday 12 June. Fearful cleaners were detained on SOAS premises as the officers demanded to see their papers. Some were taken into rooms of the university to be interviewed. A shocked witness said that someone had to intervene when a heavily-pregnant cleaner was being manhandled by immigration officers. Nine cleaners were taken away by Immigration Officers.
Nine were detained, and within days five had been deported - with two shipped off to Colombia, a country notorious for its brutal treatment of trade unionists.
SOAS staff and students, many who had been at a protest at the sacking of another cleaner and UNISON Branch Chair, Jose Stalin Bermudez, were shocked and outraged by the raid Union members and students responded immediately. Within hours the Unison held an emergency meeting that voted unanimously to campaign against the deportations. In the evening some 200 people joined a protest rally. Then on Monday students occupied the college director's office to demand the return of the deported cleaners and an end to the practice of outsourcing college cleaning services to private companies.
There has been widespread support amongst lecturers, staff and students for the successful campaign for the living wage and union recognition led by mainly migrant cleaners and many believe that it is as a result of this campaign that immigration officials were called in.
Graham Dyer, SOAS UCU Branch Chair said:
'It is no co-incidence that there is an immigration raid at a time when the UCU ,Unison and the NUS are fighting against the victimisation of a migrant worker who has been at the heart of a fight that has improved the pay and conditions of workers here at SOAS. It is also not coincidental that ISS had only just signed a union recognition agreement with UNISON last week.'
On Wednesday 17th June following negotiations with the Unions and NUS SOAS management were forced to come to an agreement to end the occupation of the college director's offices. The agreement is that:
- SOAS will write to the Home Secretary requesting that he grants exceptional leave to remain in the UK to those cleaners who are still be retained and request the immediate return of those that have been deported.
- SOAS will open discussions with ISS, and separately with UNISON, UCU and the Students Union to review in detail the events of Friday's raid.
- SOAS will discuss the possibility of bringing the cleaning services back in-house at the next schedules meeting of the Governing body.
- SOAS will meet with the unions to discuss health and safety issues relating to immigration raids.
- SOAS will not take action against those involved in the protest.
This incident has highlighted the need for unions to have a clear view of how to react to the Governments new civil penalties regime which is resulting in documents checks and workplace raids. The TUC is working with the Migrants Work Network to produce a negotiators guide to help stewards and activists deal with these issues.
JUSTICE FOR JAY ABATAN: CAMPAIGN UPDATE
Jay Abatan's (former PCS member) life was brought to a premature and violent end on 24 January 1999, when he was attacked by a group of men whilst trying to return home after an evening, celebrating his promotion. The family believe that the attack was racially motivated.
Jay's sudden death left behind a family that has since campaigned to bring to justice those who murdered Jay and also explore what can be done to make changes to the criminal justice system that systematically disadvantages those who seek redress, but do not necessarily have the resources to access justice.
Until PCS members got behind the campaign, the Abatans were sceptical about the chances of a Coroner's inquest into Jay's murder being granted. The Inquest is crucial as it has the potential to unearth evidence that can once and for all, resolve disputed evidence linked to Jay's death, review aspects of police investigation into Jay's murder and highlight areas for changes to the criminal justice system which will make access to justice and equality before the law a reality instead of aspirations.
The Brighton & Sussex police force have questions to answer about certain conduct surrounding the investigation of Jay Abatan's murder. However, unlike the Abatans, the police have an automatic right to access to public funds to defend themselves, in contrast, the Abatan's have to rely on personal resources and donations.
Due to the success of PCS campaigning, a Coroner's Inquest has now been granted. It is anticipated that the Inquest will take place during next summer and will run over a period of 3 weeks. The cost to the Abatans will run from anywhere between £60,000 - 80,000.
Ultimately the Abatan's would like the campaign to help bring about transparency and a fair criminal justice system, so that no one else experiences hidden barriers that can lead to injustices as experienced by the Abatan family and others. The Abatans are eternally grateful for the support PCS members have given and are in no doubt that it was public pressure spurred on by PCS members that put pressure on the Coroner to grant the Inquest.
Fund Raising Activities
It is estimated that the cost of the Inquest will be in the region to £60 - 80,000. Members and branches are asked to continue to support the campaign and help raise funds to meet the cost of the Inquest.
Members have been imaginative about raising funds. Ideas have included raffles, cake baking & sales, quizzes, fun runs/walks, etc. London and South Regional Committee is in the process of organizing a musical event in conjunction with Love Music Hate Racism to raise funds. 'A £1 for Jay' initiative has also been suggested. This involves branch members being asked to set up a standing order instruction to donate a £1 for Jay. The Justice for Jay Abatan Account details are
Unity Trust Bank
Sort Code 08-60-01
Account No 20175960
Branches are asked to consider the above initiatives and consider alternative ways of raising funds. Donations, converted to cheques should be made payable to the 'Justice for Jay Abatan Campaign' and sent c/o Lorna Campbell, PCS Headquarters, 160 Falcon Road, London SW11 2LN
Recession - What now for the Black Community
The recent banking collapse and subsequent economic downtown has revealed that we are not living in the brave new world that we were told. Where boom and bust no longer existed and social justice flourished, where getting supper rich was a virtue and entrepreneurship the ultimate aspiration.
The credit crunch has put pay to the illusion that we are living in a wealthy society where most people are relatively well off and only the lazy and those without aspirations are living on the dole.
Of course the reality for black communities was far from the illusion pushed by newspapers, magazines and black media. The constant promotion of black singers, TV celebrities and entrepreneurs presenting the illusion that the black community was benefitting from this wealth and that if we set our sights high enough anything was possible. Racism was no longer an issue only our ability to negotiate the bureaucracy and exploit the new diversity policies was necessary, after all diversity was good for business.
Sadly, the reality was very different. The place of black workers in the labour market did not fundamentally change. The majority of black workers in employment remained in low paid jobs and levels of unemployment were still to two to three times that of the white community a state of permanent recession and poverty.
Child poverty is a good indicator of what is happening to the poorest in our society. The increasing gap between the rich and the poor is reflected in the proportion of children living in poverty which grew from 1 in 10 in 1979 to 1 in 3 in 1998. Today, 30 per cent of children in Britain are living in poverty
The recent focus on child poverty that resulted from the Keep the Promise March last October when supporters from trade unions and community groups came together from across the UK came together, for the 'Keep the Promise' rally demanding that the government deliver on its commitment to halve child poverty by 2010 and end it by 2020 highlighted a problem that is not often talked about in the black community
The situation in the black community is even worse. The TUC in its 2006 report 'Black Workers, Jobs and Poverty' highlighted that poverty rates ran at 20% for the white community while they were 38% for the black (African and Caribbean Communities), 32% for the Chinese community and 45% for the Asian community. Some communities are particularly hard hit with the African community suffering poverty rates of 45% and with poverty rates in the Pakistani and Bangladeshi running at 69%.
Politicians and academics have often argued that these poverty levels are related to the lack of skills in black communities or cultural factors resulting in high levels of worklessness among women in some communities. However the reality has more to do with the difficulty that black workers have in accessing jobs in all parts of the labour market which results in different groups occupying different segments of the labour market.
When as in the case of the Pakistani and Bangladeshi Community the textile industry which they worked in collapse they found it impossible to get work in other parts of the labour market (partly because there was little or no other work in the area) and have been confined to working in restaurants or driving taxis.
The Government has worked to close the ethnic minority employment gap but getting people into work will not alone solve the problem of poverty in black communities. Research carried out by the New Policy Institute indicated that more than half of all the children in low-income households have someone in their family doing paid work.
The TUC has consistently argued that if the Government wants to tackle issues such as child poverty than it needs to tackle race discrimination in the labour market both in terms of improving access to work but just as importantly dealing with race discrimination in the workplace as black communities are at the core of deprivation in the UK. The danger now is that tackling race discrimination in the labour market will fall off the policy agenda in the face of such a severe recession
In a recent report on black workers and the recession the TUC highlighted the tendency for black workers to suffer disproportionately in a recession. The report which can be found on the TUC Website at http://www.tuc.org.uk/equality/tuc-16626-f0.pdf
shows that so far the evidence is that this has not happened. However it is also noticeable that the industries showing the strongest growth include those dominated by the public sector - health, social work, public administration and education areas where there is a high proportion of black workers. But this picture is changing rapidly - a recent survey by the Daily Telegraph found that local authorities are cutting their budgets by up to 10 per cent, with large job losses likely over the next three years. If public sector cuts accelerate, the fall in the employment and unemployment gaps could end and we would see the picture of employment for black workers return to the pattern of previous recessions.
Unfortunately the problems of a recession are not confined to unemployment the recession will undoubtedly make it harder for black workers to get promotion, access to on the job training and is likely exacerbate the pay gap between black and white workers. This is why we must ensure that race equality issues are at the heart of the collective bargaining agendas of our unions
Durban Review Conference
On 20th April 2009, Governments came together in Geneva to review progress made on Declaration and Programme of Action agreed at the World Conference against Racism, Xenophobia and related intolerances in Durban in 2001.
Considerable political controversy surrounded the review conference which stemmed from the 2001 Durban Conference where the USA walked out because of the insistence of the Governmental Conference on defining slavery being defined as a crime against humanity and the inclusion of a paragraph calling for a dual state solution to the Palestinian issue.
There were some problems of anti-Semitism from a minority of Non-Governmental organisations (NGO) at the NGO forum which the organisers worked to deal with and some controversy about the way in which the final NGO declaration was drafted which resulted in the NGO declaration not being accepted by the United Nations (UN). However the Governmental conference despite being boycotted by Israel and the walk out by the USA was a success.
Since 2001 there has been a concerted attempt to discredit the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. However despite the problems surrounding the Conference the Durban declaration and programme of action represented a huge step forward in the fight against racism and xenophobia. It was the first time that the majority of Government's under the auspices of the UN acknowledged that they and a responsibility to take action against racial discrimination and agreed a programme of action which could potential tackle the problems. It was also helped raise awareness in the world trade union movement that racism was something that unions should be taking action on through their local regional and international structures.
The decision by the UN to hold a review conference in 2009 was always bound to be controversial. Those forces in America and Israel that had tried to destabilise and smear the 2001 Governmental conference made a concerted effort to derail the conference as soon as it was announced. The controversy over Durban II Conference was exacerbated by the some Governments indicating that they may boycott the conference. This was made more likely by the decision of the Canadian Government to boycott the conference almost as soon as it was announced. This decision was condemned by the Canadian Labour Congress who has described it as shameful.
A consequence of these problems was that the planning and preparation for the conference. It was very difficulty at an international and national level for community organisations to find out what was happening in the planning process.
Despite the problems the International Trade Union Confederation co-ordinated a trade union input into the conference. This included submitting amendments to the text through preparatory meetings in the African region.
A working party which included the TUC was set up to examine trade union priorities for the meeting and a pre conference briefing meeting was organised trade union delegates that were attending the conference.
The pre conference meeting in Geneva on the 19th July 2009 was attended by about sixty trade unionists from different parts of the world. As well as discussing lobbying strategies the meeting agreed the following lobbying priorities for the conference:
- That trades unions should be included in the text
- That we seek to highlight the need for a decent work agenda
- Push for the rights of migrant workers to organise to be respected
- Call for strengthening of UN and national labour inspectorates
- Lobby for the establishment of a UN Observatory to monitor countries compliance with the Durban declaration and programme of action.
If press reports are to be believed the Durban Review conference collapsed in a debacle and was dominated by Middle Eastern Governments being anti-Semitic, Government boycotts and an agenda which was being set by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran
In reality things were rather different. A declaration which reaffirmed the original Durban Declaration was agreed with the UN accepting all of the demands that the European Union made in respect of the text of the declaration. Whilst President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made some objectionable remarks in his speech which resulted in EU delegates working out of that session in protest, the UN were left in a position where he looked like he was playing a leading role because of the lack of commitment by other countries to send leading politicians or heads of state to the conference. This included the UK Government's where the minister who was designated to go decided to stay at home in case Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said something objectionable.
The overwhelming view amongst trade unions present in Geneva was that the issues of the Israel/Palestinian conflict was being used by many Governments to obscure the fact that they had taken very little action to combat racism and xenophobia since 2001 and that the controversy over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took up the valuable space that there should have been for the real public debate that there needed to be about the problems of tackling racial discrimination and xenophobia
Israel and the USA did not sign the 2001 declaration. However, those Governments that had signed the original declaration and programme of action but decided to boycott the Durban Review Conference should be left under no illusion that they were in effect condoning racism and xenophobia.
The UN Secretary General was accurate in his assessment when he stated at the beginning of the proceedings in Geneva.
'I therefore appeal to all countries to see this as the beginning of a process rather than an end.
Unless they participate, their views cannot be heard or accounted for. Humanity's long march in our campaign against racism has never been easy. How could we think it would be easier going forward?
We need to build on the progress we have made and grow beyond the divisions that prevent us from moving ahead. Let us recognize the difference between honest disagreement and mere divisiveness ? or worse, sheer obstructionism. Let us lead by example, knowing that our own reputations are at stake.'
For the international trade union movement this must also been seen as the start of a process. The delegates that attended were keen to underline to the ITUC that much more needed to be done within the trade union movement to make it more representative of trade union members and to make issues of tackling race discrimination and xenophobia much more part of the mainstream and not regarded as an aspect of migration.
The ITUC has produced a Plan of Action called 'Getting Rid of Racial Discrimination and Xenophobia' which can be found on their website at http://www.ituc-csi.org/IMG/pdf/Racial_Discrimination_ANG_web.pdf. However this plan is unlikely to be prioritised unless black trade unionists get their unions to raise combating racism and xenophobia as a major priority that the ITUC and other international trade union bodies need to address. That is why it is so important that black workers get involved in the international committees of their unions at branch, regional and national level. Without an organised push from the bottom nothing will happen at the top.
Black Women and Employment
The TUC, as part of its work to promote some discussion and action on the discrimination faced by black women in the labour market produced a report that was published at the 2006 TUC Black Workers' Conference on 'Black Women and Employment'.
The Race Relations Committee agreed as part of this agenda to invite the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) to the 2006 Black Workers' Conference to speak about their 'Move On Up' project that was examining the discrimination faced by black women at work. The EOC also participated in a panel debate that was held at the conference on the problems faced by black women in the workplace. Collette Cork-Hurst a member of the committee participated in the EOC's advisory group for the 'Move On Up' project.
In order to take this work forward the Race Relations Committee organised a joint seminar with the TUC Women's committee on Black Women and Employment in July 2008. The purpose of the seminar was to:
- Discuss issues that black women face in employment
- Prioritise the issues that trade unions need to raise on their behalf
- Plan a strategy on organising black women in the workplace and making sure that their priority issues are acted on by trade unions
Speakers addressing the event were Gloria Mills (Chair of the TUC Race Relations Committee), Professor Geraldine Healy (Queen Mary College, University of London), and Zohra Moosa (Fawcett Society).
A number of topics, relating to the purpose of the seminar, were identified and there was an opportunity for participants to discuss each topic and be involved in small short roundtable discussions. Zita Holbourne from the TUC Race Relations Committee chaired the event.
The event was the first time that the TUC had organised an opportunity for black women trade unionists to come together to examine problems facing black women in the workplace.
A report called 'Negotiating Gender, Race and Class: The Way Forward' was published in January 2009. The report, which details the contributions from the speakers and reports on the conclusions of the workshops, also contains a number of recommendations which will be used as the basis for future work on black women and employment by the Race Relations Committee and the Women's Committee and can be found on the TUC Website at http://www.tuc.org.uk/equality/tuc-16205-f0.cfm
UK Black Pride 2009
UK Black Pride (UKBP) is an organisation committed to producing an annual celebration of "Black Pride". Their aim is to foster, present & celebrate Black LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender) culture through education, the arts, cultural events and advocacy.
UK Black Pride looks forward to celebrating its achievements, talents & successes on Saturday 15th August 2009. UK Black Pride continues to reduce the cost of tickets and comes ever closer to the goal of a free pride for all one day. The TUC is a major sponsor of this event. This year advanced tickets are just £5 and available now!
For online purchases from the UK Black Pride website at http://www.ukblackpride.org.uk/pages/UKBP_2009/Buy_Tickets.asp
By post please visit: http://www.ukblackpride.org.uk and download a postal ticket form.
In the lead up to the event UK Black Pride will be holding a community consultation meeting. The purpose of this meeting will be to meet with individuals and representatives from our African, Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American LGBT communities and beyond, to explore how to build successful partnerships forged on the back of previous UK Black Pride events.
New and existing community partners such as Organic Blu, (the fastest growing social network for black lesbians), IMAAN (Support for LGBT Muslims) ,Terrance Higgins Trust and LGBT members of the metropolitan police, Stonewall just to name a few are already involved
UK Black Pride now has Regional Representatives, Asian Representatives and Youth Co-ordinators working in partnership this year. Mayisha (Representatives for the Midlands) will be organising a coach from Birmingham to London on Saturday 15th August 09. www.mayisha.org.uk
Details of all our community partners can be found on our website. We welcome suggestions and ideas from individuals and organisations who would like to work with UK Black Pride. email: [email protected].
Government considering new Race Equality Strategy
The Government Equalities Office recently held a consultation on what should be contained in a new Government race equality strategy. The consultation consisted of a number of meetings held in different parts of the country and the publication of a consultation document called 'Tackling Racial Inequalities'
The TUC believes that the Government should have a specific race equality strategy and that this is part of the commitment it made when signing the Durban Declaration and programme of Action at the United Nations World Conference against Racism Xenophobia and Related Intolerances in 2001.
The TUC's response to the consultation can be downloaded from the TUC Website at http://www.tuc.org.uk/equality/tuc-16463-f0.pdf
ETUC Statement on the occasion of International Refugee Day
The ETUC is committed to the protection of refugees. It calls on the European Union to make good its promise to ensure the full and inclusive protection of refugees in accordance with international human rights obligations and its own Charter of Fundamental Rights. It calls on all Member States to ensure that any human beings fleeing armed conflict and political violence, or in fear of persecution because of for instance their political convictions, ethnic or religious origin, or their gender or sexual orientation, should receive appropriate protection.
It especially calls on the EU and its Member States to immediately stop the current inhumane practices against any migrants, not allowing them to enter the EU territory to prevent potential asylum-seekers to apply for asylum.
Duties of international solidarity
Refugees are among the most vulnerable groups in society and deserve our unfailing support and protection. They are fleeing persecution, torture, inhuman and degrading treatment in their countries of origin. In many cases they are fleeing armed conflict and political violence.
It was to protect these persons who desperately need the solidarity of the international community that several important UN conventions were adopted. In Europe, Council of Europe instruments and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights protect the right to seek asylum and to enjoy it anywhere in the territory of the Member States.
Europe can and must do better
However, the development of the EU's Common European Asylum System has revealed substantial shortcomings in the delivery of protection to those in need by the EU and Member States. There are three key issues which need to be remedied as a matter of urgency:
- Access to the EU territory: Many of the border control measures put into place by Member States with the support of the EU's external border agency, FRONTEX, do not provide mechanisms whereby refugees are able to apply for asylum in the EU. The starkest examples are the actions in the Mediterranean and Atlantic around the Canary Islands where people fleeing are impeded from arriving and (potentially) seeking asylum, as well as the forced return of persons from Italy to Libya. Mechanisms must be developed which permit persons fleeing persecution and torture to seek asylum on encounter with any EU flagged official boat which approaches them. They must not be pushed back into the sea or the hands of states where the human rights record is ambivalent.
- A full and effective consideration of all asylum applications: the EU's Asylum Procedures Directive, setting out a common system by which asylum applications made in the EU must be determined, has too many special categories which permit Member States to apply only a truncated assessment of the asylum claim or no consideration at all. For instance, the 'safe third country category' excludes all refugees who passed through a country which is considered to be safe on their way to the EU. But refugees are not able to choose the routes they use to seek protection - these are determined by the opportunities to escape persecution and torture. All the exceptional classes of refugees which are characterised by the exclusion of a full consideration of their asylum claims should be abolished.
- Recognition of refugees as, above all, human beings entitled to respect for their human rights and dignity of treatment. The current system operated in the EU does not take into account the legitimate needs and wishes of the asylum seeker who for reasons of community, language and affinity may have preference for seeking asylum in a specific Member State. It also tends to penalise Member States which have substantial external borders towards parts of the world suffering instability and armed conflict, as it requires them to care for and determine the asylum applications of any person arriving on their territory when this is the first EU country they are entering. This system needs to be revisited. It is unsustainable, because negative decisions by one Member State are automatically recognised by all other Member States but positive decisions are not, thus trapping the refugee in the Member State where his or her application was considered. It is unjust as it prevents refugees from being reunited with members of their community, resident in other Member States than the one through which they arrived in the EU. It also places administrative burdens on Member States which are often least able to shoulder them, such as Malta.
Irregular migration is a problem to be solved by proactive migration and social and developmental policies, and not an excuse for violating international obligations on asylum.
The harsh treatment of persons seeking asylum is often defended by Member States as a method to prevent irregular migration. This is in strong contradiction to the obligations under international conventions to treat each asylum seeker as an individual who has the right to have his or her asylum application properly considered. But it is also not a sustainable policy in dealing with the problems of irregular migration, as the ETUC has emphasized on many occasions.
Therefore, on the occasion of International Refugee Day, the ETUC calls on all EU institutions to work together towards more sustainable and humane migration and asylum policies and practices.
New Trade Union Anti-Deportation Campaign Guide
Trade Unions have had a long association with campaigning against repressive immigration laws and being involved in anti deportation campaigns. However, one of the consequences of Governments changing the rules on asylum seekers working was that they ceased to become involved in trade unions.
During the 1980s and 1990s asylum seekers many of whom worked in public services, turned to their trade union for help when threatened with deportation. This led to unions such as NALGO and NUPE amongst others running high profile anti deportation campaigns on behalf of members. Unions also used their political contacts with Labour MPs to pressure the Home Office to reconsider the position of members on compassionate grounds.
The removing of the right to work meant that not only did asylum seekers disappear from the workplace but that firsthand knowledge on how to run anti-deportation campaigns and the contact with refugee and asylum organisations was lost to the trade union movement.
This Campaigning Guide has been produced with the National Coalition of Anti Deportation Campaigns (NCADC) to assist trade union branches and activists who wish to set up campaigns on behalf of members face with deportation, give advice to trade union activists who are involved with local anti-deportation campaigns and encourage trade unionists to become more involved in anti-deportation campaigns. It is a guide because there cannot be a blueprint for a perfect campaign. Each campaign is unique. It's up to you how you run the campaign. However, there are some basic principles. The guide is available from the TUC Publications Department
Issued: 19 June, 2009