- 2018 National Retired Members Conference
- 1 January 2018
Conference is appalled at the Windrush scandal and the treatment of too many of the British citizens affected. In particular Conference is concerned for the many retired people and pensioners caught up in this controversy whose status and rights as British citizens have been erroneously called into question.
Conference recalls that Caribbean people were invited to come to the UK in the aftermath of World War Two to help rebuild the country and its infrastructure and were offered British citizenship for them and their families as part of this scheme of planned immigration. Many took up the offer, including significant numbers who had fought with Britain and its Allies in defeating Nazi Germany. Despite levels of racism many had to endure, they made a huge contribution to the rebuilding of the country working in transport, construction, the NHS and other crucial public services.
Conference condemns the ‘Hostile environment’ approach of the Conservative government promoted by the Prime Minister when she was Home Secretary which along with the post-Brexit climate of xenophobia and racism has seemingly made such a policy more widely acceptable and led to a divisiveness in society which has further fuelled this racist and anti-immigrant agenda.
Conference is particularly concerned to learn of situations where elderly people have been denied the right to return to Britain from Jamaica to attend their mother’s funeral or been detained at Yarls Wood prior to proposed deportation even though in both cases those involved were Windrush children whose rights and status as British citizens were being flagrantly ignored.
Conference is also concerned about other groups who have come to the UK legally but who are now worried about how this situation may affect them in the future, particularly if similar attempts are made to deport them piecemeal and ‘on the quiet’ so as to keep it from public consciousness. Windrush must not become a template for such a xenophobic, racist and anti-immigrant agenda.
Conference applauds those MPs such as David Lammy who have brought this matter to our attention and begun a national debate which has both highlighted the issue and the outrage many people feel about this treatment of their fellow citizens.
Conference believes that this situation needs to be resolved and that those affected are given assurances of their rights as British citizens and provided with the relevant documentation without delay as well as appropriate compensation for the impact of this debacle on their lives.
Conference therefore instructs the National Retired Members’ Committee to:
1) Work with the National Executive Council and Labour Link to:
a) Highlight the issue of Windrush people who are now retired members/pensioners who may be affected by any lack of documentation and, where necessary, together with relevant agencies/organisations, support their acquisition of such documentation;
b) Support any appropriate initiatives to assist Windrush people in obtaining compensation for any adverse impact on their rights and status as British citizens;
2) Work with the National Executive Council, Labour Link and any other relevant groups within UNISON to ensure that this issue is monitored so as to try and avoid any repetition in the future;
3) Encourage retired members to write to their MPs on this issue including their support for Windrush people to be given adequate compensation;
4) Publicise the support of retired members within UNISON for Windrush people and their rights as British citizens;
5) Report back to Retired Members’ Conference 2019.