Solidarity with Dale Farm

At our conference today, 9th April, No One Is Illegal resolved to send this statement of support to the Zero Eviction Day event at Dale Farm in solidarity with residents facing eviction:

No One is Illegal is for Freedom of Movement and the Right to Stay for Everyone. We are against immigration controls and for a world without borders. We oppose the criminalisation of people on the grounds of who they are. Eli Wiesel; Auschwitz survivor, novelist and Nobel Prize winner adopted the expression “No One Is Illegal” because he knew precisely where such criminalisation can ultimately lead. So we support the movement of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people and their right to settle, permenantly or temporarily.

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To say what we believe, or not? NOII joins New Internationalist debate.

In the December 2010 issue of New Internationalist, we debated the case for demanding an end to immigration controls with a leading Canadian lawyer – who also seems to believe they should go, but thinks it would be a Bad Idea to say so publicly. You can read the debate here.

As far as we can tell, the world is full of people who think immigration controls are lunacy – but don’t think anybody else does.

Oppose Immigration Tests

The ConDem Government has introduced a new law requiring Migrant spouses, or partners (from outside the European Union), to pass an English test before they come into the UK. It will disproportionately hit poorer would-be Migrants.

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Too Many Of Whom And Too Much Of What?

What the new population hysteria tells us about the global economic and environmental crisis, and its causes.

A No One Is Illegal discussion paper [download PDF here]

There is a conventional view in Britain that racism has been driven onto the defensive or even banished completely from most areas of daily life. The political Right, indeed, constantly portrays itself as the victim of “liberal oppression” and “political correctness gone mad”. Yet somehow, racism has won some huge victories in recent years, in all the liberal democracies, with very little opposition, to such an extent that the terms “fortress Britain”, “fortress Europe” and “fortress USA” are now quite normal usage – and, without even needing to be told, everybody understands what these fortifications are for: to stop the poorer, darker-skinned peoples of the world “flooding” into its richer, paler parts. Continue reading

Death of NOII founder, Steve Cohen, 1945-2009

Steve Cohen, the driving force behind No One Is Illegal (NOII) UK, died at around 5am on Sunday, 8th March 2009. He’d been fighting against rheumatoid arthritis for fifteen years. It had caused him terrible pain and increasing disability — yet he carried on writing and campaigning, and even initiating new campaigns, almost to the very last.

In the end, he went peacefully, with his closest friends and family beside him in the flat he shared with his daugher Rachel in Prestwich, North Manchester. There was a packed memorial meeting in Manchester Town Hall the following Thursday.

Steve convened the No One Is Illegal group in September 2003 after publishing a book of that name earlier in the year for Trentham Books.

During the 1980s and 1990s Steve was a campaigning immigration-law barrister, fighting and winning many landmark cases, including those of Viraj Mendis, Nasira Begum, Anwar Ditta, the Rahman family, Khan family, Okolo family, Okanlami family, Decardi Nelson family and the Anderson family.

In 1989 he established the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU).

Messages of appreciation can be sent to GMIAU:

By email: Denise McDowell (Director of GMIAU)

By post: Remember Steve Cohen, GMIAU, 1 Delaunays Road, Crumpsall Green, Manchester M8 4QS

If you want to make a donation in his memory, please make the cheque out to ARTHRITIS RESEARCH (and send it to the address above).

Similarly, GMIAU will forward personal messages of condolence to Steve’s daughter Rachel, his son Tom (and Tom’s wife Cecilia and their children Fintan and Ellen), to Sheila, Harriet and all those who loved Steve and supported him so well.

NOII supporter and activist Marion Hamm has put together a page of her own about Steve, with many useful links to his many publications.

This poem by Stephen Spender was read by Harriet at the memorial gathering in Manchester Town Hall: “I think continually of those who were truly great”.

Bob Hughes

Unhealthy obsessions

Phil Woolas should stop worrying about poor people’s fertility and tackle the real ‘extremely thorny’ question – rich people’s wealth, says Bob Hughes

After thirty years of well-earned exile in the moral wilderness, population politics is back. For Sir Andrew Green of Migration Watch, immigration minister Phil Woolas’s headline-grabbing interview with The Times on 18 October 2008 was the turning point: ‘It is the first time that a government minister has actually linked immigration and population.’

Population politics doesn’t only threaten immigrants. It’s an us-and-them game where anybody can be ‘it’. If you become unemployed or a bit too ill, you may cease to be an individual with rights, and become part of a ‘population’ instead, and a suitable case for ‘management’. Nothing could make this plainer than the juxtaposition, in The Sun (8 December 2008), of Woolas’s latest pronouncement that ‘Immigrants will have to earn the right to UK benefits and council housing … [and] wait ten years before they get a penny’, with work and pensions secretary, James Purnell’s equally tough pronouncement that from now on ‘nearly all benefit claimants will be forced to work in exchange for state handouts’.

Population politics implies the ‘legalisation’ of humanity: the right to be treated as if one were human is conferred only by thorough legal process; it cannot be acquired lightly, for example by being born, or conceived, or just turning up on one’s own unauthorised, autonomous initiative.

As the Columbia University historian, Matthew Connelly shows in his new book on the subject (Fatal Misconception: the struggle to control world population; Belknap, 2008), birth-control and immigration control are the two faces of population politics. Some very bizarre and unattractive obsessions lie at its heart, including a sordid preoccupation with other people’s breeding habits – especially of ‘the poor’.

During a BBC Radio 3 discussion of neo-Malthusianism in ‘today’s crowded world’, in March this year, Connelly said:

‘Too often, alas, population projections are psychological projections … not that there are too many people but that there certain kinds of people, with whom we feel uncomfortable, who there are too many of. So when people say the US or the UK for that matter is overpopulated I want to ask them which people in particular they have in mind, who are in and of themselves a problem?

‘If the problem is consumption, then of course it’s the wealthiest people we need fewer of. I mean, Britain would do much better if it had 100 million subsistence farmers, say, than 50 million people who are doctors and lawyers and bankers and so on. It could have much less of a carbon footprint if it imported subsistence farmers from the Sahel, and exported bankers and lawyers to Africa. But nobody is proposing that’

Alas, Woolas isn’t proposing that. Instead, he seems hell-bent on subjecting us all to the same ghastly philosophy of population control and the warped psychology that drives it, that Connelly describes in his book.

Drawing on a previously untouched wealth of primary evidence (including private letters, minutes, and interviews with surviving actors in these dramas), Connelly follows the global population-control epidemic back to its origins in the USA in the El Niño years of the 1870s. Global climate and colonialism induced catastrophes were met head-on by new, toxic orthodoxies. Nascent eugenics, plus the teachings of Thomas Malthus, and ‘political projects to define nationalism and delimit citizenship through both state policies and popular violence’, as well as ‘faceless bureaucracies that were not even accountable to the federal courts’ (p.37).

Sounds familiar? The recent Queen’s speech, with its promise of even greater Home Office powers, should be a wake-up call for anyone who has still not noticed Britain’s expanding, parallel incarceration system, with its own dedicated networks of reporting centres and special, ever less accountable courts. Woolas’s pronouncements, since his arrival in Parliament as a Mandelson protegé a decade ago, have struck echo after echo from that Edwardian past: not just the obsession with human numbers (and the grandiose promise to limit the UK’s population to under 70 million); but also a textbook obsession with his Asian constituents’ breeding habits (his crusade against first-cousin marriages); and constant, gentle appeals to the threat of popular violence (in his case, from the not-very-popular BNP).

Just as in California in the late Nineteenth-century, all of this is done in the name of that most essential McGuffin of population politics: the ‘Indigenous Working Class’. (The only kind of working class population politicians acknowledge.) Woolas gives voice to their anger, when immigrants are (extremely rarely, he affirms, but mentions it anyway) given million pound houses at taxpayers’ expense; and at Muslim women who divide the community by wearing the hijab. These issues are raised as an ‘unfortunate duty’ that falls to him because others lack the guts to do it. He calls them ‘thorny issues’. We are tempted not to notice his failure to raise other thorny issues, such as the extraordinary shortage of decent housing and jobs in the very constituency he represents.

A shameful history
Today’s population controllers are a scary and powerful lot. But they have a great weakness in their own history, inextricably bound up with the massive, ghastly fertility control campaigns Connelly describes; always aimed at the poor, not just in poor countries, but also in the USA, Sweden and all over the world. It was a war (described and conducted as such, often by military men such as the USA’s General William Draper and China’s Xinzhong Qian) that ruined millions upon millions of lives – yet had no particular effect in the end on numbers: growth was already declining. ‘It turns out that about 90 percent of the difference in fertility rates worldwide derived from something very simple and very stubborn: whether women themselves wanted more or fewer children.’ All the evidence so far suggests that attempts to control world migration are equally futile. Will they meet the same fate, and if so, at whose hands?

At the apparent height of its power, the population control bandwagon suddenly collapsed. First, it hit mounting, massive grassroots resistance; then came the global reproductive rights movement, which utterly routed it at the UN’s Population Conference in Cairo in 1994. Population control became a tar baby. Organisations that had backed coercion, transformed themselves into champions of autonomy overnight. Others changed their names. The American Eugenics Society became the Society for the Study of Social Biology; Eugenics Quarterly became Social Biology. In the UK, in 1988, the Eugenics Society renamed itself The Galton Institute (after the founder of Eugenics, Francis Galton).

Will the wheels fall off ‘managed migration’ in similar fashion? This too is being challenged increasingly by the people it oppresses. And the bigger it gets, the harder it becomes to conceal its shameful underpinnings.

Migration Watch craves the spotlight but also fears it. It has fought hard to stop people knowing that its co-founder, Oxford University’s Professor David Coleman, has been a lifelong member of the Eugenics Society, and one of its high officials during the decades when sterilisation campaigns were at their peak. What, if any, part did he play in all that? He is known to have been a government adviser during the 1980s and examined the then fashionable question of state benefits for single, working-class mothers. But when this aspect of his past was brought to public notice by students in early 2007, his response was not to answer their concerns but to pillory them as ‘tyrannical’. The Daily Telegraph gave him a whole page in which to vent his indignation – which he managed to do without mentioning eugenics once, let alone explaining his role in it.

Increasingly people know about this connection and they cannot help joining the increasingly plentiful dots. Migration Watch’s other autumn coup – getting the imprimatur of a cross-party Parliamentary group (albeit an unofficial one) for their Balanced Migration report – came at the price of public association with anti-abortionist, anti-assisted pregnancy obsessive, Frank Field (not to mention the widely abhorred Nicholas Soames).

All the makings are here for the badly needed, total and indeed comical rout of Woolas, Smith, Green, Coleman, Field and all their friends and minions – and their replacement by people with the guts to tackle the real ‘thorny issue’: the rich.

Bob Hughes, No One Is Illegal

First published in Red Pepper, December 2008.

Notes:

Fatal Misconception: the struggle to control world population; Matthew Connelly; Belknap/Harvard University Press 2008. Free sample chapter, here

The quotation above was transcribed from BBC Radio 3 Nightwaves, 19 March 2008

On unaccountable bureaucracies, Connelly cites Adam McKeown’s new book ‘Melancholy Order: Asian migration and the globalization of borders, 1837-1937’

The Woolas interview, ‘Phil Woolas: lifelong fight against racism inspired limit on immigration.’ and comment (Times 18/10/2008) are here and here.

For many further sources see

Shiar Youssef’s analysis, on Indymedia (‘Immigration crunch? The Times’ and BBC’s anti-immigration agendas’) with links to his ‘anti-white racism’ and ‘inbred Muslim’ announcements:

David Osler’s blog ‘He’s not racist, but …’(21/10/2008)

‘Migrants to earn dole and house’  The Sun, 8 Dec 2008

Workers, serfs and slaves: managed migration and employment rights (Russian)

Новый труд* производит рабский труд.

Стив Коэн

Какой бы ценной ни была последняя апология ведущей роли Британии в работорговле из уст Тони Блэра, она всё же звучала бы менее лицемерно, если бы его правительство не участвовало в развитии современной системы рабства и внедрении низкооплачиваемого труда через реформирование иммиграционного контроля.

Механизмы иммиграционного контроля изменяются. Иммиграционный контроль сегодня перемещается на рабочие места и в заводские цехи. Агенты и защитники имиграционного контроля становятся работодателями. Они являются менеджерами “регулируемой миграции” лейбористов.

Начало этой политики приходится на 1996 год, когда был принят Закон об иммиграции и убежище, который вводит уголовные санкции для нанимателей, в случае, если они берут на работу работников без соответствующих документов. Однако в действительности эти санкции направлены не против работодателей, но против работников без документов, sans papiers, нелегалов, которые из-за своего статуса могут быть арестованы полицией. Целью изменения законодательства было превратить боссов в партнёров по иммиграционному контролю посредством страха криминализации.

Статистика говорит сама за себя. Например, в 2004 г. иммиграционной службой было проведно 1098 “успешных операций” (т.е. рейдов), в результате было арестовано 3,332 работника, но ответственность понесли только 8 работодателей. В то время, как в прошлом году только один босс был привлечён к ответственности, 1,779 работников были арестованы, уволены с рабочих мест и, по-видимому, депортированы.

В 2006 г. Закон об Иммиграции, убежище и национальности ввёл гражданские санкции против работодателей, нанимающих работников без статуса или без правильного статуса. Теперь работадатели должны регулярно проверять документы работников, – для того, чтобы избежать найма нелегалов. Большая часть иммиграционных документов выдаётся на время, так что вчерашний законопослушный работник может стать завтра работником без документов.

Ситуация усугубляется тем, что по закону, регулирующему лицензирование сельского хозяйства, садоводства и ферм, где выращиваются моллюски (Gangmasters Licensing Act), – который был введён в силу в 2004 г. после гибели собирателей моллюсков китайской национальности, – данные предприятия сохранят за собой регистрацию, только если продемонстрируют, что следуют общепринятой политике и отказываются принимать на работу работников без документов.

В последнее время много писали про новую систему балльной оценки, которая контролирует статус работников-иммигрантов, – детализированную в официальном документе правительства “Балльная Система Оценки: Работа иммигрантов на пользу Британии”. Фактически, ничего не писалось о требовании, для работодателей, которые сами должны пройти регистрацию – перед тем как смогут нанимать иностранных работников, и o том, что они рискуют этой регистрацией, если связываются с работниками, нарушающими иммиграционные законы. Более того, работодатели должны будут сообщать в министерство внутренних дел о прогулах работников-иммигрантов.

В соответствии с официальным законодательством, “спонсоры обязаны информировать нас, в случае, если мигрант, получающий пособие, не появляется на работе в первый день, или не записывается на предложенный курс. Аналогичным образом они должны сообщать о любом длительном отсутствии на работе или перерыве в учёбе, если срок действия контракта подошёл к концу, если имигрант прерывает трудоустройство, или сменяет учебное заведение. Спонсоры также должны сообщить нам о смене их обстоятельств, например, если они объединяются с другой компанией или передают ей своё имущество”.

Такой уровень надзора является попросту беспрецедентным в мирное время. Если только сегодня не идёт новая война – война против рабочих. И по большей части это война против работников без документов. Однако война распространяется также на тех, у кого есть документы – если принимать во внимание ограниченный статус иммиграционных документов. Это также распространяется на работников из Европейского Союза. Работники из стран – новых членов Европейского Союза ограничены в получении льгот и связаны такими ограничениями в трудоустройстве, как необходимость регистрироваться в Министерстве внутренних дел для получения права на работу, – это требование само по себе может отбросить таких работников в сферу нелегального или потогонного труда (в данный момент, похоже, есть намерение ограничить права работников из Румынии и Болгарии).

Новые механизмы контроля, вводимые на заводах, отражают смену фокуса самого иммиграционного контроля.

На протяжении последней декады в фокусе были беженцы. В 1970-ые и 1980-ые это были мужчины с полуострова Индостан, которых обвиняли в заключении “фиктивных браков”, наряду с детьми, которые ожидали здесь воссоединения со своими родителями, – их обвиняли в том, что они не были “в дйствительности детьми, как это заявлялось”. В конце 1960-ых такой мишенью были мигранты азиатского проихождения из Восточной Африки… если дальше прослеживать иммиграционную политику во времени, то в 1920-ых это были коммунисты, а в начале века – евреи, бежавшие от царизма (первый контроль был введён в 1905 г. Законом об иностранцах). Иммиграционному контролю всегда требуется мишень, реальная или воображаемая. Сегодня это “экономические мигранты” – чей труд необходим, но чьё присутствие нежелательно.

Когда речь заходит о работниках-иммигрантах, как и в случае с любым другим конструктом, связанным с иммиграционным законодательством, само использование термина “право” является злоупотреблением. Обычно мигрантам, которые имеют разрешение на въезд в страну и на работу, невозможно добиться задокументированных “прав”.

Чтобы подать в суд в случае незаконного увольнения, необходимо проработать на рабочем месте на протяжении года, что невозможно в случае кратковременного труда по временным контрактам. “Право” на получение письменного подтверждения условий трудоустройства бессмысленно для тех, кто не владеет английским.

Работники, обладающие документами, могут расчитывать далеко не на все “права” на трудоустройство. Права “родителей” в соответствии с Нормами рабочего времени: отпуск по уходу за ребёнком, отгулы по семейным обстоятельствам, гибкие условия труда для ухода за ребёнком, – не выполняются в случае работника-иммигранта, работающего по документам, по крайней мере в случае, если ребёнок не находится в Британии.

Те, у кого нет документов и права находиться или работать в стране – просто не-люди. Они буквально являются нелегалами: живут вне закона, подвергаются преследованию и нападкам по закону, и не могут рассчитывать на какую-либо защиту со стороны закона. Например, они не могут добиваться приведения в исполнение своих контрактов на трудоустройство, требовать гарантий выплаты минимальной заработной платы, заявлять о незаконном увольнении, требовать запрета на незаконные отчисления из заработной платы, и вообще требовать выплаты заработной платы. Аппеляционный суд по делу Ваканте против Эддей и Стэнхоуп Скулл по сути подтвердил всё вышеизложенное, приняв решение, что работник без документов не может подать в суд на босса по Закону о расовых отношениях. Даже попытка вступить в профсоюз там, где работодатель пытается навязать отсутствие коллективного договора с профсоюзом становится значительным препятствием, так как работник без документов не может предъявлять претензии по поводу нарушения прав профсоюзов – так как они не имеют прав на объединение в профсоюзы.

Одно из предположений, в последнем исследовании связи между иммиграционным статусом и “правами” работников заклучается в том, что законы против дискриминации должны распространяться на иммиграционный статус. Как практикующий юрист, я тоже ранее так считал. Однако теперь я вижу, что это утопия – т.е. невозможно в принципе, – точно так же, как как и требование в некоторых статьях “честного” контроля. “Честный” контроль является утопией, так как по определению контроль порождает дискриминацию и несправедливость. Таким образом, вопрос не в том, чтобы достичь равенства в иммиграционном статусе. Вопрос в том, чтобы избавиться от иммиграционного контроля и само собой разумеется, от “статуса” тоже. Для этого может понадобиться революция. Честный и не-дескриминационный контроль – это фантастика.

Едва было бы возможным преувеличить серьёзность ситуации. Экономический статус работников с документами в лучшем случае соответствует статусу крепостного при феодальном праве: точно так же, как крепостной был привязан к земле и не мог свободно передвигаться, точно так же работник с документами, за исключением тех, которые обладают особыми навыками, привязан к работе и таким образом к хозяину. Работник без документов сродни рабу. Однако есть доля правды и в том, что он близок предполагаемому “свободному работнику” в условиях капитализма. Маркс не определяет рабство в терминах экономических отношений, но в терминах отношений доминирования, – которое является прямым в условиях рабства и непрямым в условиях капитализма. Однако работник без документов во всех остальных случаях существенным образом отличается от всех прочих работников в условиях капитализма. Работники без документов находятся в полном распоряжении своих господ.

Прекаризация, которая затрагивает также работников с документами, означает, что они могут запросто оказаться в мире работников без документов. Работники без документов, не попавшие сразу же в заключение, оказываются в условиях, близких к рабству: они работают в теневой экономике, обслуживая лёгкую промышленность, точки быстрого питания, гаражи, интернаты для престарелых, и предоставляют сексуальные услуги в больших городах. Затем, когда их труд больше не требуется, или когда они настолько измождены, что у них больше нет сил бороться за свои рабочие места, их транспортируют (депортируют) в соответствии с экономическими потребностями и национальными предрассудками их господ из Объединённого Королевства – часто для того, чтобы вернуть в руки господ, от которых они сбежали в стране проихождения.

Британское законодательство идёт в санкционии подобных аналогов рабсту ещё дальше. В соответствии с последним законодательством 2006 года, депортированным и заключённым в центрах задержания отныне разрешается работать. Но вознаграждение, пречитающееся за такую работу, соответствует труду не свободных работников, но труду заключённых. В Статье 59 Закона специально обозначено, что закон о национальном стандарте минимальной заработной платы в данных случаях не должен применяться.

Однако Статья 10 Закона об убежище и имиграции представляет ещё более очевидный пример законодательного закрепления рабского существования. Она ставит предоставление жилья и другой поддержки для малообеспеченных в зависимость от взятых ими на себя обязательств по “коммунальному хозяйству”. Это прежде всего касается беженцев, чьи требования были отвергнуты Министерством Внутренних дел, но которые не могут вернуться домой из-за обстоятельств, на которые они не могут повлиять, так как лишены гражданства, больны, или если возвращение в страну слишком опасно (что парадоксально в случае с отказом на просьбу о политическом убежище). Статья 10 переводит беженцев в разряд рабов, делая их труд принудитльным, так как отказ от труда влечёт за собой лишение жилья и другой поддержки. Когда Акт проходил рассмотрение в комитете Палаты Лордов (15 июня 2004 г.), лорд Рукер поощрял участие групп третьего сектора в тендере за этот рабский труд. Он также предложил, что принудительный труд беженцев может быть использован для улучшения жилищной ситуации самих беженцев – что представляет собой возможность для местных властей и частных компании забесплатно отремонтировать изношенное и непригодное жильё.

Извстны случаи успешного сопротивления введению в действие Статьи 10. В Ливерпуле YMCA участвовала в тендере по этой схеме. Но после массового выражения недовольства со стороны работников без документов и поддерживающих их, тендер был прекращён.

Рабские условия, вводимые в действие и усиливаемые иммиграционным контролем, означают невозможность санирования такого контроля в ходе рефомы или используя другие легальные механизмы. Единственный выход – это отмена иммиграционного контроля или дальнейшие репрессии. Точно так же, как классическое рабство не подлежало реформированию – его необходимо было ликвидировать. Уильям Фишер, описывая принудительный труд, сказал: “Во всех смыслах с ними обращались как с вещами, бездушными объектами или предметами имущества, которые можно покупать и продавать, закладывать и проигрывать в карты, предавать и конфисковывать”. Это высказывание вполне относится к сегодняшним sans papiers. Фактически, Фишер описывал идеологию, на которюю опиралась Американская рабовладельческая система до гражданской войны. Рабовладельческий кодекс 1696 г. штата Южная Каролина начинался с провозглашения: “В виду того, что плантации и поместья Провинции не могут быть должным и надлежащим образом управляемы без использования труда негров и прочих рабов…”. Если заменить “негров” – “экономическими мигрантами”, это превосходным образом отражает используемую лейбористами аргумeнтацию, и использует тот же самый язык, что и политика “управляемой миграции”. Всё это не так уж и ново.

Стив Коен является участником движения “No One is Illegal”.

Oригинал статьи:

http://noborderslondon.blogspot.com/2006/12/how-new-labour-is-creating-slave.html

*”Новый труд” – брэнд, под которым выступает лейбористская партия в современной Британии.

Workers, serfs and slaves: managed migration and employment rights

Whatever the merits of Tony Blair’s recent retrospective apology for Britain’s leading role in the slave trade it would be less hypocritical if his government was not developing a modern system of slavery and the reintroduction of sweated labour through the reshaping of immigration controls.

The mechanisms of immigration control are changing. They are locating themselves in the workplace and on the factory floor. The agents and enforcers of controls are becoming employers. They are the managers of New Labours “managed migration”.

In fact this role began with the 1996 Asylum and Immigration Act which imposed criminal sanctions on bosses who employed those without the correct documentation. The real targets of these sanctions were never intended to be the employers but rather the undocumented, the sans papiers, the illegals, whose immigration status they were expected to police. The intent was to transform bosses into partners in control through the fear of criminalisation.

The statistics speak for themselves. For example in 2004 there were 1098 “successful operations” (i.e. raids) by the immigration service, which resulted in the arrest of 3,332 workers – but the successful prosecution of only eight employers! In the previous year only one boss was successfully prosecuted but 1,779 workers arrested, removed from the workplace and presumably deported.

The 2006 Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act introduced civil penalties against employers as a deterrent against hiring those without status or without the correct status. Bosses will now have to check an employee’s papers at regular intervals to avoid employing an irregular worker. Most immigration documents are time-limited. Yesterday’s lawful entrant can become tomorrow’s sans papiers.

And it gets worse. Under the law regulating gangmasters – the Gangmasters Licensing Act introduced in 2004 after the drowning of Chinese cocklepickers – gangmasters will only preserve their registration if they show they are policing and refusing to employ undocumented workers.

There has been considerable publicity given to the new points system controlling the entry of migrant workers as detailed in the government’s white paper, A Points-Based System: Making Migration Work For Britain. Virtually nil publicity has been given to the requirement that employers will have to register before they are able to recruit overseas labour, and may jeopardise that registration if they are connected with employees who breach immigration law. Furthermore employers will have to report their employee(s) to the Home Office for absenteeism.

According to the White Paper: “Sponsors will be required to inform us if a sponsored migrant fails to turn up for their first day of work, or does not enrol on their course. Similarly they will be expected to report any prolonged absence from work or discontinuation of studies, or if their contract is being terminated, the migrant is leaving their employment, or is changing educational institution. Sponsors will also need to notify us if their circumstances alter, for example if they are subject to a merger or takeover”.

This level of surveillance is unprecedented in peacetime. Except today there is a new war – a war against workers. This primarily presents itself as a war on the undocumented. However the war extends even to the documented given the tenuous and circumscribed nature of immigration papers. It also extends to European Union workers. Workers from the new EU East European accession states are restricted in obtaining benefits and are bound by employment restrictions such as the need to register for work with the Home Office, a requirement which in itself may drive such workers into the underground economy of sweated labour (and it now seems there is an intention to restrict entry for Romanian and Bulgarian workers). It is a war on all imported workers.

The new factory floor mechanisms of control reflect the shift in the focus of immigration controls themselves.

For the last decade the focus, the demons, of control were asylum-seekers. In the 1970s and 1980s it was husbands from the Indian sub-continent who were accused of contracting “marriages of convenience” – along with children seeking to join parents here – and were accused of “not being genuine as claimed”. In the late 1960s it was Asians from East Africa… and it can go back in time to communists in the 1920s to Jews fleeing Tsarism at the turn of the century (leading to the first controls – the 1905 Aliens Act). Immigration controls always have their latest demons, real or imagined. Today it is “economic migrants” – whose labour is needed but whose presence is unwanted.

When it comes to migrant workers then, like every other construct tainted by immigration law, the very use of the term “rights” is an abuse of vocabulary. What “rights” the documented – those migrants with permission to enter and work – possess are usually impossible to enforce. The ability to bring a case for unfair dismissal requires having been in employment for a year – an impossibility for short-term, temporary labour. The “right” to a written statement of employment terms is pointless for those not literate in English.

And not all employment “rights” apply even to the documented. Parental “rights” under the Working Time Regulations – parental leave, time off in a family emergency, flexible working conditions to care for children – none of these appear to apply to the documented migrant at least where the child does not reside in the UK.

The undocumented, those without leave to be here and/or work, are simply non-persons. They are literally illegal – they live outside of the law, hunted and harassed by the law and without the protection of the law. For instance they cannot enforce their contracts of employment, secure payment of the minimum wage, claim unfair dismissal, demand not to have unlawful deduction from wages, indeed claim to have wages at all. The Court of Appeal in the case of Vakante v Addey and Stanhope School has in essence confirmed all the above in deciding that an undocumented worker cannot bring a case against a boss under the Race Relations Act. Even attempting to join a union where the employer attempts to impose a non-union shop becomes a major obstacle as undocumented workers cannot assert a breach of trade union rights – as they have no trade union rights.

One of the suggestions made in a recent book showing the relationship between immigration status and employment “rights” (Labour, Migration and Employment Rights published by the Institute of Employment Rights) is that the laws against discrimination should extend to immigration status. As a practicing lawyer I once thought this as well. However I now think this is as utopian – i.e. conceptually impossible – as is the demand in some quarters for “fair” control. “Fair” controls are utopian because by definition controls are both discriminatory and unfair. Just so, the issue is not one of achieving equality of immigration status. The issue is one of getting rid of immigration controls and indeed of “status” altogether. This might well require a revolution. Fair or non-discriminatory controls would require a miracle.

It is hardly possible to exaggerate the gravity of the situation. The economic rank of the documented, of those with papers, is at its best often equivalent to the villein or serf under feudal law – just as the villein was tied to the land and could not move elsewhere so the documented, other than the most skilled, is tied to the job and therefore the master. The sans papier is akin to that of a slave. It is true that the s/he does have one essential feature in common with the supposed “free labourer” under capitalism. So Marx in the – did not define slavery in terms of economic relations but as a “relation of domination” – with domination being direct under slavery and indirect under capitalism. However the undocumented in all other ways is quite distinct from all others under capitalism. The sans papier is entirely at the mercy of his/her master/mistress.

The precariousness of even the documented means they can easily slide into the world of those without papers. And those without papers and not already in detention are driven into the slave-like conditions of the underground economy where they service the rag trade, fast-food joints, garages, nursing homes and sex joints of our metropolitan centres. Then when their work is no longer required, or when they are so exhausted by work that they have no energy to fight to stay, they are transported (deported) in accordance with the economic needs and national prejudices of their masters in the UK – often to be returned into the hands of the masters from which they escaped in their country of origin.

In British immigration law recent statutory measures have judicially sanctioned these slavery analogies even further. Under the latest 2006 legislation those about to be deported and incarcerated in removal centres will now be allowed to work. But this work will not attract the rewards of a free labourer but rather those of the prisoner. Section 59 of the Act specifically provides that the law relating to the national minimum wage shall not apply.

However Section 10 of the 2004 Asylum and Immigration Act represents an even more vivid example of the statutory confirmation of a slave like existence. This makes provision of housing and other poor-law support for certain refugees to be conditional on their undertaking “community services”. These are refugees whose claim has been rejected by the Home Office but are unable to 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. Section 10 transforms asylum-seekers into slaves. It makes their labour compulsory, as refusal to participate will result in deprivation of housing and other support. When the Act was being debated in its committee stage in the House of Lords (15 June 2004), Lord Rooker encouraged voluntary sector groups to get involved in tendering for this slave labour. He also suggested that this compulsory refugee labour could be used for the maintenance of the refugee’s own accommodation – which is a way local authorities and private companies can get otherwise run-down unlettable properties updated for free.

There has been successful resistance to the implementation of section 10. In Liverpool the YMCA tendered for the scheme. But after outrage was expressed by the undocumented and their supporters the tender was withdrawn.

It is these slave-like conditions enforced and reinforced by immigration controls that indicate the impossibility of such controls being sanitised by reform or other legal mechanisms. The only options are abolition or further repression. Likewise classical slavery was incapable of reform – it had to be abolished. One writer (William Fisher) in describing forced labour has said “In most contexts they were treated as things – objects or assets to be bought and sold, mortgaged and wagered, devised and condemned”. He might as well be referring to today’s sans papiers. In fact he was describing the ideology behind the institution of ante-bellum American slavery. The 1696 Slave Code of South Carolina began by proclaiming “Whereas the plantations and estates of the Province cannot be well and sufficiently managed and brought into use, without the labor and service of negroes and other slaves…”

Substitute “economic migrants” for “negroes” and this well expresses the rationale, and uses the same language, as New Labour’s “managed migration”. It is not so new after all.
First published in Legal Action, August 1997

Trade Union Programme

WORKERS’ CONTROL NOT IMMIGRATION CONTROLS

A TRADE UNION PROGRAMME OF OPPOSITION TO IMMIGRATION RESTRICTIONS

PROPOSED BY NO ONE IS ILLEGAL

NO IMMIGRATION CONTROLS IN THE WORKPLACE!

The well known phrase “workers of the world unite” does not mean “only workers with the correct immigration status” unite. It means all workers both here and internationally. The function of immigration controls is to ensure the absolute reversal of this principal. It is to ensure the global division and antagonism between workers .This is divide and rule based on the crudest nationalism and racism Workers’ unity means getting rid of controls. This may seem unrealistic, fantastic and utopic . It would certainly require an enormous political upheaval. Some unions have indeed at some times adopted resolutions in opposition to controls in principle and in so doing have effectively accepted the slogan No One Is Illegal. This has been the result of the self-organisation of those threatened by controls – organising either within the unions or through anti-deportation campaigns. The 1989 NALGO (the predecessor of UNISON) conference demanded the abolition of all controls. In the same period NAPO (the probation workers union) adopted a similar position. In the recent period the 2005 conference of NAFTHE (workers in higher education) passed a resolution committing the union to “support the right of any person to come and live and seek employment in the UK for whatever reason”. However opposition to controls in their totality has with rare exceptions become the programme that dare not speak its name. Instead another and opposite orthodoxy is dominant in the labour movement. This is the demand for “fair” or “benign” or “compassionate” controls. And this demand would not require a political upheaval. It would require a miracle. By their very definition controls are inevitably, unjust and malign . It is the idea that controls can be non-racist or fair that is unrealistic. There cannot be equal opportunities immigration control.

Most of the reasons why there cannot be “fair” controls are really transparent and don’t require much reflection. First the initial legislative controls, the 1905 Aliens Act, were based on that most primitive of racisms, anti_Semitism, and were directed against Jewish refugees fleeing Tsarist Russia. Second the next wave of controls, starting with the 1962 Commonwealth Immigrants Act, were directed at black people(this itself being in some ways anticipated as early as 1925 in a Coloured Alien Seamen Order requiring the enforced registration with the police of “coloured” seafarers). None of this is much of an advert for the idea that controls can be turned inside out and rendered “non-racist”. Third controls are anyhow based on the vilest nationalism – the idea that the right to come to or stay in the UK should be a reserved only for members of a privileged club who somehow have managed to acquire the franchise. Fourth controls can never, by any definition or redefinition, be “fair” to those excluded by them. Fifth the very first control on peoples’ global movement prior to legislation was slavery out of Africa – which again was hardly susceptible of being rendered benign or compassionate. All this is obvious. What is less obvious, because less known, is that controls are in fact a result of successful fascistic agitation. The 1905 Act was largely the result of agitation by an organisation now lost (suppressed) to history – the British Brothers League. The 1962 Act followed quickly on the so-called Notting Hill riots (actually racist white riots) of 1958 which were organised by fascist groups such as Oswald Moseley’s Union Movement. The idea that a political construct such as immigration restrictions which are a product of fascistic activity can somehow be sanitised and rendered harmless simply does not make sense. It is equivalent to arguing that all that is wrong with fascist groups like the British National party is that they are “unfair” and we ought to fight to make them non-racist. As the saying goes – a leopard can’t change its spots.

The fact that the destruction of controls would require a huge political movement – maybe even a revolution – is not a statement of pessimism. It does not imply any acceptance of controls until the day of complete deliverance. Rather it is a statement that all criticisms of control, all demands put against controls, should be on the basis of opposition to restrictions in principle – on the basis that No One Is Illegal! Within this political framework trade union agitation becomes crucial. This is because of something often ignored – namely immigration controls come into conflict with union organisation on a daily basis at the workplace. Immigration laws are a total system – they are about internal controls as well as exclusion and deportation. In particular most welfare entitlements ( social housing, non-contributory benefits, hospital treatment) are dependent on immigration status as is the right to work itself. As a consequence of this total system it is inevitable that controls often directly impinge upon workers in the course of their employment or their union activities. Of course trade unionists should oppose controls in every context in which they arise – such as detentions and deportations – because in every context in which they arise they are a manifestation of racism. However the need for trade union involvement goes well beyond this and extends into the heart of the employment relationship itself.

It should also not be forgotten that immigration controls are a danger to all trade unionists. – including those workers with full immigration status. One of the functions of immigration control is to undercut the wages and conditions of all workers by transforming migrant labour and labour without any immigration status into a non-unionised low-waged workforce unprotected by labour legislation. Which is why there is a need to fight for the regularisation of immigration status, for full unionisation and for equality of wages and conditions for all. In the past the trade union movement has, unfortunately, often been in the forefront of agitating for controls. For instance the very first controls – the 1905 Aliens Act aimed at Jewish refugees – was preceded by the TUC demanding controls. Again in the 1950s and 1960s the TUC supported controls against black commonwealth workers. Today the labour movement has begun to change its position – not least because of the resistance and anti-deportation campaigns of those threatened by controls. Today it is possible to open up the whole debate. Today it is possible to challenge the very existence of controls.

FOR A TRADE UNION ACTION PROGRAMME AGAINST CONTROLS

Close down Immigration controls

What has to be faced up to is that it is now utterly inadequate to give lip service to the appalling cruelty inflicted by immigration control. What has to be faced up to is that controls cannot be sanitised on a case by case basis – no more than a tiger can be tamed tooth by tooth.

Trades unions are central here. For instance would any union tolerate its members being made to impose quotas for job opportunities or housing opportunities or health treatment or welfare support on black people? We assume not. However in effect immigration controls, by linking entitlements to immigration status, impose quotas on virtually everything. Indeed asylum seekers have been removed totally from the welfare state and are now subject to a new poor law administered by the “welfare wing” of the Home Office – the National Asylum Support Service. This a poor law based on maintenance at 70% of income support level, forced dispersal throughout the country and eviction onto the streets for failed asylum seekers. And all this is administered by trade unionists.

Trade unions in this country are still very powerful. If the labour movement had the political will it could pull the plug on immigration controls and close them down. This is precisely because many of the crucial sectors that enforce immigration control are unionised. Proper use of this trade union organisation could make controls unworkable.

This is clearly the case at the epicentres of controls. The administrative nerve centre of immigration restrictions is the IND based at Lunar House in Croydon. A few years ago the system was almost brought to its knees when the computer system malfunctioned. Imagine what a strike would achieve in combating the racism of controls. Another organisational base of immigration control is at airports. Trade union action at airports could effectively stop deportations by refusing to service or fly planes carrying passengers being expelled.. In Germany an organisation known as Deportation Class has campaigned against Lufthansa Airlines to prevent deportations. Law experts of the German pilots’ association “Cockpit“ have declared that it is illegal to deport human beings who are brought into the airplane in shackles. According to their opinion, the captain should refuse to participate in such a deportation, due to the risk of criminal proceedings against himself. Accordingly, “Cockpit“ call all their members to make sure before take-off that anybody in the process of being deported is staying voluntarily inside the airplane. The international pilots’ association also considers it to be a prerequisite that the person in question is “willing to travel“. There are examples of pilots and air crew in the UK refusing to fly out deportees

Defiance not compliance!

The vast majority of workers within the welfare sector join that sector with the motivation to help other people. However the implementation of internal controls is only possible through the active co-operation of those workers, those trade unionists, who find themselves having to determine welfare provision on the basis of immigration status.

But it is precisely this role which presents a weak link in the whole chain of controls. Individual or even groups of workers would be exposed to victimisation if they tried to break this link without union backing. However internal controls could be brought to a halt by public sector workers organised in their unions. Public sector unions – based in, for example, the health, local authority and welfare benefit sectors – should adopt a policy of non co-operation and non-implementation of internal controls by supporting their members in refusing to ask questions as to immigration status and by refusing to pass on information to the Home Office. Workers within each relevant sector – for instance local authority housing workers – should start to organise rank and file groups within their unions where these issues could be discussed, debated and acted on. Under pressure of campaigns by the undocumented there is the start by unions of adopting a policy of defiance. The 2005 UNISON health workers conference resolved to “support health workers in refusing to monitor or provide information on asylum seekers to government bodies”. Some professional bodies are also moving towards a position of defiance For instance under section 9 of the 2004 legislation failed asylum seekers with children can be evicted from NASS administered accommodation if they persist in fighting their case and refusing to return to the country from which they fled – with children having to be then taken from their parents by social services and placed in care. The British Association of Social Workers has condemned this as abduction not in the interests of the child but of immigration control and has said it expects social workers “to strongly resist the implementation of this brutal power”

No One Is Illegal!

In all other areas of the law it is the activity that is unlawful. Under immigration controls it is humanity that is reduced to being unlawful. The phrase “No One Is Illegal” means what it says. It does not mean only some people are legal. It goes beyond fighting just for asylum-seekers. Asylum-seekers are only the latest of the unwanted to be demonised. In the past it was immigrants, those wanting to settle here, often joining family. Or migrants, those wanting to work here. And these groups are still unwanted. In the future it will be some other group. Today’s lawful presence will be tomorrow’s unlawful presence. None of this law has anything to do with morality. It has all to do with politics and power. As Martin Luther King once said “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal”. Which is again why we proclaim No One Is Illegal. This means fighting for whoever wants to come or stay irrespective of their motive.

The political language of controls

Controls are not a “natural” phenomenon. They are a result of political activity. Similarly immigration law is not some morally-given. It is the result of political agitation. Everything about immigration controls is political – including language.
And this applies to the language of those affected by controls. How should these be described? Refugees is quite inadequate. These are simply the latest group to be demonised by the politicians. But they are not the only ones. There are also migrants (those coming to work) and immigrants (those coming for settlement). It is Bob Dylan who sang “pity the poor immigrant” But these terms are also inadequate. This is not only because other groups are presently affected, such as students, and in the past yet other categories were the victims (for instance in the 1920s members of the Communist Party). It is also because those possessed of proper immigration documents are carved up into a hierarchy depending on the conditions of stay ,length of stay, whether employment is restricted during stay, rights (or lack of them) to benefits. And those granted the documents of permanent settlement (including the holy grail of citizenship itself) are attacked vicariously through immigration controls by the denial of family members to join them. It is at these points that documents themselves become pointless. Which is why politically those resisting controls have claimed for themselves the language of the undocumented or the sans papiers. This is the language which unites all those subject to controls. All other language divides them.

THE PROPOSED PROGRAMME

No workplace raids

Workplace swoops by the police and immigration service are now a regular occurrence. Factories, fast food places, garages, nursing homes and hotels are the frequent subject of raids in the search for undocumented workers. As early as 1980 and after a series of raids the Transport and General Workers Union and the General and Municipal Workers Union issued a joint statement saying that black workers had ‘have to carry at all times their papers proving their right to live and work here. This is a situation more reminiscent of the apartheid system in South Africa than of Great Britain’ (Guardian July 7th).

It is a matter of obvious concern to all trade unionists if co-workers are dragged from the workplace by the immigration service. A basic trade union demand should be that employers ban the immigration service or those acting on their behalf, such as the police, from entering their premises.

No employer sanctions

The Tory’s 1996 Asylum and Immigration Act represented a direct attack on worker’s organisation and worker’s unity. It penalised (fined) bosses for employing workers without the “correct” immigration status – without the correct documents. These are the undocumented workers of popular imagination and the laws are known as employer sanctions. These laws have been significantly strengthened by Labour’s 2005 Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act which allows for on the spot civil penalties as an alternative to criminal procedures. Employer sanctions are completely reactionary. They require workers to disclose their immigration status to their employer. They transform the bosses into agents of immigration control. They bring immigration control into the workplace. They drive a wedge between ‘lawful’ and ‘unlawful’ workers. They point the finger at all undocumented workers. They weaken trade union organisation by creating a pariah class of workers without immigration status who have to conceal their identity.

Employer sanctions are part of the grand plan for Fortress Europe. As long ago as 1976 the European Commission produced a draft directive ‘On the harmonisation of laws in the Member States to combat illegal migration and illegal employment’. This called for employer sanctions. Such sanctions now exist in all the main centres of industrial might. They were introduced into the USA in 1986 in the Immigration Control and Reform Act. They are part of the internationalisation of immigration controls. They point to a future where worker surveillance extends further into the workplace and where the undocumented worker is subject to a Big Brother regime. When the European draft directive was debated in parliament in June 1977, Gwnyth Dunwoody MP pointed out that there had been suggestions by the European Commission that ‘the wages council and factory inspectors should be used as a method of checking … immigrants’.

The TUC did oppose employer sanctions when first introduced in 1996 and all labour movement bodies should follow this. However this was not always the case. As long ago as 1978 the House of Commons Select Committee on Race Relations and Immigration pointed out the TUC was in favour of such laws. Two justifications are normally given by union leaders for employer sanctions. These reasons are quite contradictory. The first justification is that workers without immigration status somehow weaken trade union negotiated work place conditions (see the TUC’s Hotel and Catering Industry Committee in its minutes of April 1978). This is exactly the same argument used historically to justify immigration control on all workers whether ‘authorised’ or not – namely that cheap imported labour undermine wages and bargaining positions. The other justification is that employer sanctions somehow protects undocumented immigrant workers by preventing their exploitation (see the General Council’s Statement on Immigration and Racism issued at the 1990 conference in response to a NALGO resolution against controls in principle). However it is a very strange way of protecting exploited workers by transforming their bosses into stool-pigeons for the immigration service who can then deport these same workers!

Solidarity not sanctions! Better pay and conditions for all!

In essence employer sanctions are about snatching, penalising and expelling undocumented workers. They are not about attacking bosses. The figures show this. In June 2005 the Home Office produced a so-called “Regulatory Impact Assessment” on the then Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill. This shows that ,for example, in 2004 there were 1098 “successful operations” (i.e. raids) by the immigration service which resulted in the arrest of 3332 workers – but only the successful prosecution of 8 employers! In the previous year only one boss was successfully prosecuted – but 1779 workers arrested, removed from the workplace and presumably deported. No equality here.

Recently at least one section of the trade union movement has recognised the danger of employer sanctions on the shop floor. In December 2005 it was widely reported that at least one branch of the retail giant ASDA had been demanding the Asian employees produce their passports – and their names had been read out publicly over the store tannoy asking for their documents. The workers union, the GMB, denounced this. This denunciation should be the start of a campaign against employer sanctions..

Trade union strength and organisation does not rest on the arrest and deportation of workers. It rests on solidarity. It rests on preventing the exploitation of workers without immigration status by organising those workers in unions and campaigning with them against deportation and for the regularisation of their stay in this country. The labour movement should refuse to accept the definition of workers into ‘lawful’ and ‘unlawful’. Instead unions should campaign under the slogan of No Worker Is Illegal

Low wages are not fought by making employers into immigration spies. They are fought by unionising all workers to fight together for better conditions irrespective of their immigration status. Equality and improvement of wage rates, health and safety conditions, holiday, sickness and redundancy entitlements – these all have to be fought for irrespective of immigration status. A recent, December 2005, massive example of this was the action in Eire against the attempt to by the Irish Ferry company to import Baltic workers at a wage rate below the minimum standard. This was met by trade union action – unfortunately abandoned before final victory – including the occupation of one ferry, the prevention of another sailing and a demonstration of 100000 . Union leaflets were printed in Latvian and Lithuanian, welcoming the migrant workers and demanding equality of rates and conditions for all irrespective of immigration status.

In 2002 the TUC produced a pamphlet, Migrant Workers a TUC Guide. This should be in the hands of every shop steward both because of the clarity of its legal explanations and because of its encouragement to organise in defence of the undocumented – both in the workplace for better conditions and against deportations. It gives many examples of support for migrant workers to attain better working conditions. For instance:

“Its (the Transport and General Worker’s Union) most recent successful campaign involved Chinese workers at the New Diamond restaurant in London’s Soho. The workers worked long hours without a break. They received no compensation if they had an accident at work. They were never given a payslip and had no holidays. Health and safety standards were very low. After a recruitment campaign, workers at the restaurant took industrial action when four members of the union were dismissed. They successfully picketed the restaurant while lodging their claims at an employment tribunal. The employers were forced to settle, paying a significant sum of money to the four workers.

The TGWU has also taken the initiative in recruiting cleaners – many of whom are migrant workers – and in November 2005 organised a Justice For Cleaners picket outside the Deutsche bank against poverty wages. The same union has sponsored a Tube Cleaners Support Group. All this is modelled on the vibrant Justice For Janitors campaign in the USA where the Service Employees International Union is fighting for the rights of janitors without immigration status.. It is clear from all this that even if there is achieved a situation of no controls then there will have to be laws protecting and actions defending the rights and conditions of migrant workers and those who they have come to join. This is just the same as equalising the rights of, for instance, part time or temporary workers – a situation which in any event many migrant workers find themselves.

Control of gangmasters not undocumented workers!

In February 2004 there occurred the tragic scandal of the death by drowning of 19 Chinese cockle gatherers in Morecambe Bay after being trapped by rising tides. The cockle pickers had been employed and exploited by gangmasters – these being basically employment pimps who either themselves hire or hand on workers to other contractors.. By July 2004 there was enacted the Gangmasters (Licensing) Act – the speed of enactment not being unrelated to the international publicity given to the tragedy. The Act provides for a compulsory registration scheme for gangmasters within the agricultural and shell fish and associated processing and packaging sectors. There had in fact been control of gangmasters within agriculture since laws passed in 1867 – which were repealed by Labour in 1965. The new legislation should be supported if it saves lives and prevents super-exploitation. Indeed at least one union, the GMB, has called for the legislation to be extended across the board to all industry.

However as Virgil, the classical Roman poet, wrote – Beware the Greeks bearing gifts. It would seem that the Chinese workers who died were undocumented – which made them doubly vulnerable to the gangmasters. The cross-party support in the parliamentary debate of 9 February 2004 for the gangmaster legislation presented it as though – like employer sanctions – it is were a way of preventing the exploitation of other economically vulnerable undocumented workers by preventing them staying in the country! This stands reality on its head. The way to provide protection and prevent super exploitation caused by vulnerability through lack of immigration status is to get rid of the cause of the vulnerability – immigration controls and the whole concept of immigration status. However the Home Office appears to be hoping that registered gangmasters will not only not employ the undocumented but will in some way act as yet another arm in tracking them down and reporting them. And of course any future cockle gatherers without appropriate documents whose lives might be discovered to be in danger will not be allowed to remain but will be forcibly deported. These deportations are already happening and the labour movement is turning a blind eye to them. In April 2004 over twenty undocumented East European workers were subject to raids and arrests in Cheetham, Manchester and elsewhere. The General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union welcomed this as disrupting the work of gangmasters – though no gangmaster was reported as being arrested. Instead the BBC’s report was headed “illegal workers face deportation”. As is asked by Shakespeare in King Lear – “Which is the justice? Which is the thief?” The thieves are the exploitative gangmasters and the racist Home Office. The justice is with the workers of whatever nationality. The only principled trade union position is for the right to remain –the regularisation – of all those without status as part of the end to employer sanctions and of the dismantling of controls themselves

No slave labour! For the right to work!

The ultimate exploitation of the undocumented and the most extreme undermining of trade union cohesion is the reduction of those without immigration status to a position of actual slavery. And this position has now been reached courtesy of section 10 of the 2004 Asylum and Immigration Act.

Section 10 represents the most extreme example yet of internal controls. It makes housing and other poor-law support for certain refugees to be made conditional on undertaking “community services”. These are refugees whose claim has been rejected by the Home Office but are unable to 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. Section 10 transforms asylum-seekers into slaves. It makes their labour compulsory, as refusal to participate will mean deprivation of housing and other support. . When the Act was being debated in its committee stage in the House of Lords (15 June 2004), Lord Rooker encouraged voluntary sector groups to get involved in tendering to NASS for this slave labour.. He also suggested that this compulsory refugee labour could be used for the maintenance of the refugee’s own accommodation – which is a way local authorities and private companies could get otherwise run-down unlettable properties updated for free.
There has been successful resistance to the implementation of section 10. In Liverpool the YMCA tendered for the scheme. But after outrage was expressed by the undocumented the tender was withdrawn.

The paradoxical flip side of this slave labour scheme is that asylum seekers awaiting a determination of their refugee application are normally prohibited from exercising another basic trade union right – the right to work. This leads to further impoverishment and pushes the undocumented into the hands of exploitative bosses. Trade unions need to resist the implementation of section 10 , to be alert to the employment of slave labour and to the existence of rogue employers. And they should fight for the right to work for all irrespective of immigration status.

The reduction of those without immigration status to slave labour has now taken a new twist. They are to become the equivalent of prison labour. The latest Asylum, Immigration and Nationality Bill allows one class of person the “privilege” of being allowed to work. This is those detained in a removal centre and waiting deportation. Soon it may be compulsory labour. In the meantime the new law exempts this work from the national minimum wage. This clearly needs to be opposed not least because it undercuts national wage levels.

No to traffickers! Yes to rescuers!

Trafficking in humanity for financial gain is once more just another form of pimping. This the case whether or not the trafficking is part of a supply chain to the sex industry. Indeed trafficking cannot be reduced to the sex trade and also provides cheap, vulnerable labour to other more conventional sectors. Some of the recent immigration control laws contain new criminal offences in relation to this trade in human cargo. Section 145 of the 2002 legislation outlaws trafficking for purposes of prostitution and section 4 of the 2004 legislation extends this to a surprisingly wide definition of “exploitation” generally – including the provision of services through “force, threats or deception”. Irrespective of these specific issues, there have been general provisions since 1971 Immigration Act against “assisting illegal entry and harbouring”.

Given the disreputable nature of trafficking for gain then should trade unionists support all legislation designed to suppress the trade? The answer is no! Once again as in the case of gangmasters – beware the politicians bearing gifts. In particular beware laws demonising traffickers which are part of, and included in, far wider legislation designed to further control the entry of the undocumented. Anti-trafficking measures are being used to prevent the migration of people who are driven by poverty and persecution to move country.

Three situations need to be distinguished. First is trafficking which involves trickery or violence or lack of any consent – which is essentially trans-national kidnapping . In September 2005 there was much publicity given to the discovery in Birmingham of 19 women from East Europe who were being forcibly imprisoned in a brothel after being deceived into coming to the UK by traffickeers. Sex by clients in this situation is in effect rape. The prosecuting and outlawing of the traffickers should be supported by everyone. At the same time the victims of such forced trafficking should be given the absolute right to remain – not, as at present, being liable to deportation. Criminalising the victims of trafficking is racist, hypocritical and cruel. Again we should ask – Which is the justice? Which is the thief? At the moment the British government is not even prepared to give its signature to the extremely limited European Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings – which allows for temporary residence for those trafficked. Moreover global trafficking in some form could continue even after the abolition of controls – just as it existed, for instance in the guise of the white slave trade, before controls. And measures will be necessary to prevent this where violence or deception is involved. However the super-exploitation that results today from trafficking – not least the blackmailing and threats of exposure by the traffickers on those they smuggle here – is frequently the consequence of immigration controls themselves and can only be solved by the dismantling of controls. And it should never be forgotten that the biggest trafficker of people without their consent is the Home Office – whose deportation programme is far in advance of that of the private dealers in people misery.

The second situation is smuggling of people for profit – but where those being smuggled consent to this as the only way of exiting the country of origin and entering the UK. This is a disgusting trade. However given the existence of immigration controls it is a life-line to those who wish to exercise their fundamental human right to freedom of movement. The prevalence of smuggling for profit will only end when immigration controls end. Until then outlawing it will only cut off the means of escape to those who want to flee their country of origin.

The third situation is the rescuing of the impoverished and the persecuted. Trade unionists should oppose the criminalisation of those who out of political consciousness or family solidarity help to ease the entry of the undocumented. Indeed trade unions should actively encourage and sponsor and aid this free movement. “Underground railways” providing rescue and freedom, or at least safety, – such as existed for slaves escaping the plantations of the American south or for Jews trapped in Nazi Europe – need to be developed in the twenty first century for those trapped in persecution or poverty.

No deportation or intimidation of trade union activists through controls!

The potential for immigration controls to be divisive and undermine workers unity is almost infinite.

Controls can be used to create disunity by intimidating trade union activists who have not got a secure immigration status. There have been several examples of trade unions actively fighting to defend members against such threats. It is also now a legitimate trade union practice to support members under threat of deportation. For instance UNISON, and its forerunner NALGO, has consistently and actively campaigned against the deportation of its members since it successfully fought in the early 1980′s the threatened deportation of Mohammed Idrish, a worker from Birmingham. In the mid 1980s UCATT, the building workers union, organised a lunch-time walk out from Manchester town hall in defence of one of its members, George Roucou, who was employed by the council’s direct works and was under threat of deportation. The National Union of Journalists is presently fighting to stop the removal of Mansoor Hassan – a campaigning writer who has exposed the practice of so-called “honour killings” in Pakistan. In some ways times have moved on. The militancy of the undocumented community both in the workplace and on the streets, both against working conditions and against deportations, has at least forced the TUC to acknowledge there are real issues here. The TUC pamphlet, Migrant Workers a TUC Guide makes it clear that “trade unions have a role to play in assisting migrant workers who have been subject to negative decisions by the immigration authorities”. Likewise it expresses support for campaigns against deportations – and it provides examples of the attempt to deport people who happen to be trade unionists and examples of trade union support against their deportation. For instance:

“RC was one of the many migrant domestic workers who joined the TGWU through its involvement with the migrants’ organisation Kalayaan. In 1998 she was detained and was about to be deported when the union found out. It was able to make immediate representations to the government, reminding it that at the very time it was in the process of announcing that it was going to regularise the position of migrant workers like her. The union’s intervention was successful and she was allowed to stay.

However none of these threatened deportations described above were a response to trade union activity as such. Nonetheless as long ago as the Alien Restriction Act of 1919 it was made a criminal offence for a non-British citizen to ‘promote or attempt to promote industrial unrest in any industry in which he has not been bona fide engaged for at least two years’. Conviction of such an offence could lead to a recommendation of deportation by the court. This provision is now another piece of the forgotten and hidden history of immigration control. It was aimed at both trade unionists and Communists and was enacted in the middle of the anti-¬Communist hysteria following the Russian revolution. Once again Jewish workers were its main and intended victims. It was successful in weakening trade union organisation.

On the one hand there were actual deportations of trade union militants. The Stepney Trades Council Annual Report for 1919/1920 records that: ‘The government policy to crush Trades Union and Labour organisations of the alien population by means of the Alien Restriction Order and the action of the government in arresting and deporting Trade Union officials where no case can be made, has been a matter of grave concern to this Council. The organisation of alien workers has not been an easy task and the position of every trade unionist was threatened by the government policy which made it a criminal offence for an alien to take part in the industrial movement’.

On the other hand the very existence of this legislation served to intimidate some Jewish workers from trade union activity. In a parliamentary debate of October 22nd 1919 Colonel Wedgewood, an opponent of this law, said: ‘I understand that there are numerous officials of Jewish trade unions in the East End, most of which unions are affiliated with the local trade and labour councils, and the officials are already resigning from their posts as secretaries and from the trade and labour councils because they are afraid that, by being on the trades and labour councils, they may involve themselves on a charge of promoting or attempting to promote industrial unrest.

Trade union activists today

This power to prosecute and deport for promoting industrial unrest is still law though it apparently has not been used since the 1920s. However under the 1971 immigration Act the Home Secretary can initiate deportation procedures on so-called “conducive to public good” grounds. This provision can potentially be used against trade union militants and on at least one occasion has been so used. In 1974 Franco Caprino, an Italian worker in the catering industry, was arrested and threatened with deportation on the grounds that his presence in the UK was not conducive to the public good. He had been active in unionising migrant workers in the catering trade – particularly those coming from the underdeveloped areas of Southern Europe. A successful campaign against deportation was fought by the Franco Caprino Support Committee and with the support of Franco’s union, the Transport and General Workers Union.

Unionise the undocumented – rethink the unionisation of immigration officials!

Unity is strength. At the moment many undocumented workers are isolated, atomised and vulnerable – vulnerable to deportation as well as exploitation by rogue employers. This vulnerability could be broken down through trade union organisation. Trade unions should embark on a deliberate policy of recruitment of the undocumented. This must include the active recruitment of those without immigration status. Unions must reject the whole divisive distinction between “legal” and “illegal”. They must fight for the regularisation of status of all they recruit – as part of a policy of support for everyone, union members or not, under threat of deportation and as part of a policy of opposition to controls in principle.

The flip side to this is the present unionisation of immigration officers. Most immigration officers are in their own scab outfit, the Immigration Service Union, which is not affiliated to the TUC. The ISU is essentially an in-house union which operates as a wing of the Home Office itself – as such it is an enemy of the undocumented and should be treated as such.

However other officers are organised in the immigration branch of PCSU –the Public and Commercial Service Union. PCSU is a legitimate, mass union affiliated to the TUC. This obviously raises a fundamental question of principle – should a union be organising people whose function is to harass, detain and deport the undocumented? There could arise, there may have arisen, a situation where one PCSU member is deporting another PCSU member . The PCSU normalizes immigration controls by regarding workers within the immigration service as ‘ordinary’ employees undertaking ordinary employment. This is made clear in the November 2003 edition of the union’s Journal. The General Secretary, whilst condemning ‘prejudice’ against asylum-seekers, compliments union members in the immigration service as undertaking a ‘professional job’ to which the PCSU ‘has given and will continue to give 100% support’. The December 2005 issue of its journal attacked those clauses in the then Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Bill which allow private companies to search vehicles at sea and air ports for people without the “correct” immigration documents. However this was not based on any principled objection to controls. It was not based on solidarity with the undocumented. Rather it was based on the protection of members’ jobs – members who “prevent illegal people and materials entering the country by searching vehicles quickly and professionally”. The PCSU Immigration Staff Branch does not view its main, or any purpose, as representing a challenge to controls. Its main concerns are the everyday conditions of its members. In expressing these concerns, the PCSU inevitably legitimizes the politically illegitimate. In its written evidence to the 2002 House of Commons Home Affairs Committee report Asylum Removals, it expresses ‘discontent with the system for removing failed asylum-seekers’, but it does this not from the perspective of the refugee but rather ‘on the basis of improving the working conditions of members of the union’. It offers no principled objection to controls or their implementation; rather it criticizes the Home Office’s ‘business plan’ and ‘the setting of unrealistic targets’. The latter term refers to the forced and potentially violent removal of human beings. In November 2005 the PCSU virtually acted as a scab outfit in respect to a protest in Glasgow by asylum-seekers and their supporters who protested outside and inside Home Office immigration offices in Glasgow. The union condemned this as being antagonistic to the “health and safety” of its members. There was no consideration given to the health and safety of those undocumented who exist without welfare and in a state of destitution before facing detention and deportation. There was no consideration given to joint actions of solidarity with the asylum seekers.

What position should be taken on this? What should be done? In many ways the problem here is similar to the problem of unionisation of workers in trades which the labour movement opposes – such as the arms industry. Without immigration controls the work of immigration officers would not exist. There is an obvious conflict here between job security and fighting racism. However unions which claim opposition to racism cannot simply ignore this contradiction. One way forward would be to refuse to unionise , and to refuse to give labour movement recognition to the unionisation of, immigration officers and all other workers within the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) of the Home Office. This would be one possible principled position. The problem however is that because of internal controls and in particular the link between immigration status and welfare entitlement then it could be said “we are all immigration officers now”. Members of other unions – for example UNISON, the local government union – are at present continually collusive with controls. Indeed it is a measure of the far-reaching nature of controls that non-unionisation of those enforcing them directly or indirectly would lead to a decimation of trade union membership.

So another suggested and better way forward is that all members of all unions (such is the expansive nature of controls) should be recruited on the basis that their union is in support of non co-operation with all aspects of control and will guarantee to provide full union defence, legal and political, of all members victimised for non co-operation. Of course from the reality of today’s politics this might seem fantastic – but today’s trade union politics is that there can be “fair” controls and this is what is really fantastic.

For full civic rights! For the right to vote!

The racism of internal control goes even beyond linking welfare entitlements to immigration status. It extends into the most basic of democratic rights – the right to vote. The basic rule is that only people with a British (or Irish) nationality have the right to vote in the UK – for parliamentary, local and European elections. Commonwealth citizens have the right to vote but can only vote in local elections if they have permanent stay here. European Union citizens are permitted to vote only in local and European elections. Everyone else is voteless . So even if voting could change matters , the undocumented are undemocratically excluded from the system. They share this exclusion with convicted prisoners and certain people judged mentally unfit – all an unholy trinity in the eyes of the British state.

A proposed model trade union resolution and action programme against controls

PART ONE -This trade union organisation;
(1) NOTES the existence of immigration control legislation which deports individuals, divides families and prevents the entry of asylum-seekers.
(2) CONDEMNS this legislation as racist
(3) CONSIDERS all immigration controls to be intrinsically and inevitably racist. Immigration laws were introduced in this country in 1905 in order to keep out. .Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe. These laws were then used to exclude the victims of Nazism. In the second half of the century controls targeted black people. They now target all the undocumented – in particular migrants (those coming to work), immigrants (those coming for settlement) and refugees.
(4) OBSERVES immigration law is unique. It is a result of fascistic agitation. The 1905 Act was the result of activity by the proto-fascist British Brothers League. The post-war legislation followed the 1958 Notting Hill “race riots” provoked by Oswald Moseley’s fascists. ‘Non¬ racist’ or ‘fair’ immigration controls are impossible.
(4) REGARDS immigration controls as divisive of trade union and labour organisation by splitting workers into ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’
(5) WELCOMES the self-organisation of all those threatened by immigration controls
(6) VIEWS employer sanctions as the most divisive form of immigration control. They turn the bosses into agents of immigration control in the workplace – by criminalising the employment of undocumented labour.
(7) IS CONCERNED trade unionists are used to enforce both immigration controls and internal immigration controls – e.g. in hospitals, benefit agencies and local authority housing departments where entitlements are linked to immigration status.
(8) IS APPALLED BY the forced trafficking of human being. We SUPPORT the right of people to freely come to the UK by any means necessary and we support the right to remain of those trafficked.
(9) OPPOSES the linking of entitlements (including the right to vote) to immigration status along with the establishment of the National Asylum Support Service and its administering of a new poor law for asylum seekers, outside the welfare state and with the help of local authorities.

PART TWO – This trade union organisation
RESOLVES to contest all immigration controls and internal controls and to
(a) Support all members or non-members threatened by immigration controls or refused welfare entitlements because of their immigration status.
(b) Defend all members who refuse to implement immigration or internal controls.
(c) Encourage the self-organisation of those threatened by controls
(d) Support all campaigns against deportation or detention
(d) Support campaigns for the restoration of entitlements for all irrespective of status.
(e) Oppose employer sanctions.
(f) Oppose any attempt by the Immigration Service to enter the workplace in order to arrest, detain and deport workers.
(g) Actively embark on a recruitment drive of migrants, immigrants and refugees irrespective of their immigration status
(h) Fight for the right to work and for equality of conditions and pay at not below minimum wage levels for all workers irrespective of immigration status – and an end to compulsory labour
(i) Campaign for the right to vote in all elections for everyone living in the UK irrespective of immigration status
(i) Campaign to outlaw forced trafficking and fight for the right to remain of those trafficked.
(j) Explore how unions can best help facilitate the entry here of those wishing to leave their country of origin as a result of persecution, impoverishment, being divided from their family here or for any other reason of their choice.
CALLS UPON the TUC and this union regionally/ nationally to adopt the above

WE ARE ASKING TRADE UNION ORGANISATIONS TO GIVE THEIR NAME TO – SAY THEY ARE IN GENERAL AGREEMENT WITH – THIS PROGRAMME. YOU CAN CONTACT US THE ADDRESS BELOW

No One Is Illegal, Bolton Socialist Club, 16 Wood Street, Bolton, BL1 1DY. Email: info@noii.org.uk Web site: http://www.noii.org.uk

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”.
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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.