Unions vote to stand up for migrants and refugees

Public Services International congress hears of the plight of refugees and migrants

Delegates at the Public Services International (PSI) congress have voted to work for the protection of rights for refugees and migrants, to oppose the privatisation of migration and refugee services, and to demand that states abide by their human rights obligations when it comes to migrants and refugees.

The global trade union congress showed unanimous support for those who have had to flee their home, and many delegates stood up and spoke passionately about the issue.

Heiki Erkers, chair of academic union SSR in Sweden, said: “Nobody chooses a deadly route, nobody chooses the perilous seas. These are dangerous journeys – especially for women and children.

“It’s useless that Europe, with some of the richest countries, chooses to close its borders and turn its back on refugees.” She added: “we have a responsibility to welcome those who arrive and help them.”

In 2015, 65.3 million persons were displaced globally because of persecution, conflict, violence and human rights violations, and the number is rising. Of these, 21.3 million are refugees, of whom over half are children below 18 years of age. Almost half of the refugees are female.

Juan Ayala Rivero from Mexico said: “PSI defends the rights of all migrants, all displaced persons and all refugees. We want commitments so that trade unions should stand against privatisation of social services and public services and that these services should be available to migrants and refugees.”

Stephanie Smith, from Canadian National Union of Public and General Employee, declared that “access to vital public services must be available to all, regardless of status … we cannot allow ourselves to buy into anti-migrant rhetoric.”

Find out more about Public Services International at www.world-psi.org