Immigration and Austerity

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2017 National Black Members' Conference
16 September 2016

This conference notes that more than a million refugees fled to Europe in 2015 and up to a million more will do so by the end of 2016 seeking refuge from wars in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan and other conflict zones.

Conference believes that the vote for Britain to leave the EU will have little effect on refugees forced to flee terrible conditions which continue to deteriorate.

But since the vote to leave the EU there has been a steep rise in racist attacks with reports of attacks on Polish community centres, verbal and physical abuse of Muslim women and children and Islamaphobic and racist leaflets pushed through front doors.

However, Conference recognises that for years the Tories and far right party, UKIP backed up by the right wing press have used the refugee crisis to whip up anti migrant feeling, dismissing desperate refugees at Calais as a ‘swarm’ only there to ‘seek a better life’ and describing migrants drowning in the Mediterranean as ‘cockroaches’ and ‘feral humans.’

In 2013 when Prime Minister Theresa May was Home Secretary she organised advertising vans telling illegal immigrants to “Go Home or face arrest.” This added to a very hostile environment for migrant workers.

During the Brexit debate both sides made immigration the central plank of their campaigns in a poisonous atmosphere reaching a nadir in UKIP’s racist ‘Breaking Point’ poster. UNISON’s General Secretary, Dave Prentis formally complained to the Metropolitan police about the poster as intended to incite racial hatred.

Conference recognises that some workers worry that a large number of migrants will have a detrimental effect on wages and public services. However it is not migration but austerity that is responsible for the strain on our public services.

International solidarity includes the fight for the right to asylum for those fleeing war, sectarian conflict and dictatorship. This should be combined with supporting the right for families to be reunited and calling for an end to asylum seekers being treated like criminals and locked up in detention centres which are no different to prisons.

Therefore Conference calls on the National Black Members’ Committee (NBMC) to work with the national executive council (NEC) to:

1)Ensure that UNISON continues to be at the forefront of campaigns to defend migrant workers and to fight racism in all its forms.

2)Continue to speak out against racist attacks in the aftermath of Brexit, with a renewed vigour to challenge racism in the workplace and wider community.

3)Continue to work with Hope not Hate and other affiliated anti racist groups against UKIP, right-wing and fascist groups whipping up racism, Islamaphobia and anti-migrant feelings.

Submitted by: National Black Members’ Committee

NBMC Policy: Support