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Trade union demonstration against deportations

Miles Barter, NUJ Northern regional organiser

Saturday 2 April 2005
Assemble 12.30 Whitworth Park, Oxford Rd, Manchester. Bring Your Union Banner!

The National Union of Journalists is currently running a campaign against the deportation of one of our Manchester branch members - Mansoor Hassan. Mansoor worked as an investigative journalist in Pakistan where he exposed honour killings, government corruption and, crimes involving drug trafficking.

The campaign has brought into focus the pressing need for all trade unions to take up the challenge of defending and supporting refugees and asylum seekers. We believe asylum is a trade union issue.

Right to work for all seeking asylum

In 2002 the government withdrew the right to apply for permission to work from people seeking asylum. The right to work of many who came before that date has been withdrawn, even though their claims for asylum have not yet been fully considered. Thousands of skilled and willing workers have been forced to live on benefits, rather than being able to earn a living and make a contribution to society. We are urging unions to campaign on this issue and pressure the government to change the law.

Campaigning against vouchers for those seeking asylum was successful. We can do the same over the right to work.

Trade unions can organise migrant and undocumented workers

Some unions have already been involved in organising migrant workers, including putting out information in languages other than English, but there is still a huge amount to do. Migrant workers are found in all
sectors of the economy but especially in food processing, agriculture, catering, cleaning, health and care services, and through agencies in many other workplaces.

Deaths and injuries are even more prevalent among migrant workers. As the TUC/ILO report - Forced Labour and Migration to the UK - and recent revelations in the media have shown many - like the Morecombe cockle pickers - are super exploited due to language barriers, fear over their rights as migrants, and because their accommodation is provided by their employers. We need to look at creative ways of reaching and organising all these workers, including contacting them in the communities where they live, and using learning reps to campaign for English classes to be available to all who need them, at times and places convenient to them.

Making sure migrant workers are organised and have the same wages and conditions as others stops the bosses undermining gains others have made and benefits us all.

Public sector workers should not be made into immigration officers

Workers in housing, health, benefits and nearly every public service are now being told to check people's immigration before they can get access to the service. Many people seeking asylum or coming to this country for other reasons are being refused vital services, even when they have paid tax and national insurance contributions.

Trade unionists in these services are discussing how they can stop having to act as immigration officers, taking these issues up nationally in their unions.

We hope you will agree that immigration is a trade union issue.

We look forward to seeing you on 2nd April at this important demonstration.


March 2005


For Socialist Unity ~ For Internationalism ~ For Peace ~ For Justice ~ For Unity ~ For Socialism