Campaign Against Slave Labour

CAMPAIGN AGAINST IMMIGRATION SLAVERY
APPEAL TO TRADE UNIONS, LOCAL AUTHORITIES, AND VOLUNTARY

SECTOR/COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS AGAINST IMMIGRATION SLAVE LABOUR

Section 10 of Asylum and Immigration Act 2004 makes “hard case support” conditional on performance of community work.

This leaflet explains why trade unions, voluntary sector groups and local authorities need to make a statement denouncing this clause and refusing to take advantage of such forced labour.

A new section with severe implications was added at the last moment to the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc) Act 2004. This gives the Home Secretary power to make regulations providing for the continuation of the provision of accommodation for a failed asylum seeker to be conditional upon her or his performance of community services.

Such “hard case support” is presently available under Section 4 of the 1999 Act in cases where a failed asylum seeker is unable to return home because of circumstances beyond his or her control – for instance because they are stateless or ill or (paradoxically in the case of a rejected asylum application) the country of return is too dangerous. Once regulations come into force this help will be dependant on what has hitherto been a punishment reserved for convicted criminals – namely obligatory community service.

Full benefits should be available to all irrespective of immigration status – and people seeking asylum should have the choice to work (it is ironic that all other people who are seeking asylum are forbidden to work).

Section 10 has been condemned by the Joint Committee on Human Rights of the House of Lords/House of Commons in its Fourteenth Report of Session 2003-04. In essence the criticism is one of slave labour. In particular the report attacks the section as being in breach of Article 4(2) of the European Convention of Human Rights (prohibition of forced labour), of Article 3 (prohibition on inhuman or degrading treatment) and of Article 14 (no discrimination on grounds of nationality).

Why trade unions must oppose this scheme

This legalisation of slave labour – transforming into slaves one of the most vulnerable and abused sections of our communities – is quite clearly something the labour movement must oppose. It is simply the logical conclusion of the super-exploitation of migrants, immigrants and refugees – a super exploitation that resulted in the deaths at Morecambe of the Chinese cockle-pickers.

Why local authorities must oppose this scheme

It gets worse. The new section has an expectation that local authorities will collude in the implementation of this forced labour scheme. It states that: “A local authority or other person may undertake to manage or participate in arrangements for community activities”. This is a reminder of the old Poor Laws where parishes would contract in forced labour from the work-house.

Lord Rooker in the in the Committee stage of the 2004 Act said in the House of Lords that community service might involve refugees “contributing to the upkeep or maintenance of their own accommodation” This is a formula for the free repair of otherwise unlettable council (and voluntary sector or private property) to which asylum seekers are involuntarily “dispersed”– which can then be rented out at a profit once the slave is deported. In immigration newspeak Rooker called this “social cohesion”. It is more like social disintegration

Why the voluntary sector must oppose this scheme

It gets worse still. Lord Rooker also stated “We would be happy to see the voluntary and community…sectors involved in this way…consultation should take place with…the National Council for Voluntary Organisations”.
.
The Home Office is trying to ensure that voluntary organisations, like other welfare and social service providers, become agents of internal immigration control – through the increasing link between immigration status and welfare entitlements. The new section with its imposition of forced (slave) labour is politically the logical consequence of this.

What to do!

(1) All trade unions, local authorities and voluntary sector organisations should write to the Home Secretary (Home Office, 50 Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1H 9AT), to object to Section 10, to state that your organisation will refuse to participate in it – and to make this correspondence public.

(2) All organisations should organise meetings against the exploitation of undocumented labour and for the non-implementation of Section 10.

(3) Let’s develop this into a national campaign!

This leaflet has been produced by : NO-ONE IS ILLEGAL www.noii.org.uk 16 Wood St Bolton, BL1 1DY

STOP YMCA USING ASYLUM SEEKERS AS SLAVE LABOUR!

Background legislation

Section 4 of the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act allows for minimum (“hard case”) housing and other support for some failed asylum seekers. This bare minimum is available where a failed asylum seeker cannot return home because of circumstances beyond their control – because they are stateless or ill or (paradoxically in the case of a rejected asylum application) the country of return is too dangerous. However section 10 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004 says even this minimum will only be available on condition the refugee undertakes compulsory “community service”.

Slave labour

This is a punishment hitherto reserved for convicted criminals. It is also a modern form of slavery. It is in breach of the 1930 Forced Labour Convention of the International Labour Organisation to which the UK a signatory. The Convention defines forced labour as meaning “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily”. Asylum-seekers selected for the scheme will become homeless and destitute unless they perform the required community services/labour. This cannot be classified as a “voluntary” agreement to work. Trade unions in particular should be alert to the use of such wageless labour. The present scheme is based on the compulsory giving of labour (just like the national dispersal of refugees is based on the compulsory movement of human beings, which is itself a form of servitude.)

Breach of human rights

Section 10 has been condemned by the Joint Committee on Human Rights of the House of Lords/House of Commons in its Fourteenth Report of Session 2003-04. In essence the criticism is one of slave labour. In particular the report attacks the section as being in breach of Article 4(2) of the European Convention of Human Rights (prohibition of forced labour), of Article 3 (prohibition on inhuman or degrading treatment) and of Article 14 (no discrimination on grounds of nationality).

The YMCA’s collusion in the scheme

Lord Rooker in the committee stage of the 2004 legislation made it clear that the government wants not only local authorities and the private sector but also the voluntary sector to participate in this scheme as slave masters. Hitherto only one voluntary agency has agreed to participate. This is the YMCA which has agreed to run a pilot scheme in Liverpool. This was made public by the YMCA in a statement of May 5 which attempts to justify the proposed slavery.

* The statement says “YMCA England is the preferred provider” to deliver such a scheme. This the language of corporate bodies seeking tenders rather than an organisation fighting for the rights of asylum seekers.

* Historically all slave-owners seek to justify their role in showing that servitude somehow “helps” the slave. This was the position of the cotton growers of the Southern states of America at the time of the civil war – slavery being portrayed as a way that black plantation workers could have their welfare met. The YMCA portrays section 10 as being benevolent and helpful to asylum-seekers

  • The YMCA says “No individual will be required to carry out any specific activity against their will” This is untrue, An asylum seeker within the scheme who refuses to carry out all proposed activities will lose all support – see clause 4 Immigration and Asylum (Provision of Accommodation to Failed Asylum-Seekers) Regulations 2005.

* The statement says section 4 asylum-seekers should be allowed to enter into paid work and the YMCA will continue to be “outspoken” on this and other issues. We agree section 4 asylum-seekers should have the right to paid work and think all asylum seekers should have this right. However there is an omission from the issues on which the YMCA is “outspoken”. Those subject to control are outside the welfare state. Entitlement to most benefits and services are dependant upon immigration status. Since 1999 asylum-seekers have been subject to a new poor law (administered by NASS –the National Asylum Support Service) based on compulsory dispersal and “maintenance” below income support level. “Hard case” support for failed asylum seekers is even below these rates. Why does the YMCA not campaign for the restoration of full benefits/ entitlements for everyone subject to controls?

The issue of principle – no collusion

The statement presents as positive that “The YMCA is also already working with a large number of failed asylum seekers through a contract with NASS to provide accommodation to around 150 section 4 recipients”. This provision of (usually second rate) accommodation is not a benefit to refugees. This is because the YMCA is a party to evicting section 4 recipients on withdrawal of support by NASS. If the voluntary sector (along with the private sector and local authorities) had refused to become involved with the poor law and dispersal scheme then these could not have been implemented. This leads to the issue of principle. Our position is controls cannot be rendered “just”, cannot be made “fair”. All involvement on this basis only results in collusion – and in the present case in immigration slavery.

Hypocrisy

There is Home Office hypocrisy in their promotion of this scheme. The Asylum and Immigration Act 2004 imposes a penalty of imprisonment for trafficking people for forced (slave) labour. Maybe the Home Secretary should send himself to prison!

Collusion by Liverpool City Council?

It is ironic Liverpool, the great port on which slavery rested historically, has been chosen for the pilot scheme. The Immigration Minister has written to the Chief Executive of Liverpool Council seeking the council’s support for the scheme

What you can do

* Write to the following at the YMCA:
Richard Capie, Public Affairs Manager YMCA, richard.capie@england.ymca.org.uk. John Sentamu, National President of YMCA Bishop@birmingham.anglican.org ,Jeff Calvert, Chief Executive, Liverpool YMCA, Jeff.Calvert@liverpoolymca.org.uk
* Send copies of your letters to… Your local YMCA… Anti-Slavery International info@antislavery.org,… International Labour Organisation Europe@ilo.org Young Womens Christian Association info@ywca.org.uk

*Mike Storey, Leader Liverpool Council mike.storey@liverpool.gov.uk
*The YMCA is an international organisation. Circulate this leaflet internationally
This leaflet has been produced by No One Is Illegal , 16 Wood St, Bolton, BLI IDU .Email info@noii.org.uk. Come to the international No One Is Illegal conference, June 25th, 1-6pm, Cross St Chapel, Manchester city centre.