Friday, July 28, 2006
Unions must fight for migrant amnesty
Jack Dromey, T&G deputy general secretary, earlier this month called for a serious debate about irregular working, in rejecting the arguments of right wing think-tank Migrationwatch, who campaign against mass migration. Mr. Dromey called for irregular workers to become regularised, by way of an amnesty.
"Our country and economy needs migrant workers. Irregular working is part of our economy and we need a serious debate about how to tackle it. "
"Rather than criminalising irregular migrants, many of whom have lived and raised their families in the UK for years, we should establish a way for them to work and contribute legally. If countries like the United States, Spain and Italy can have an amnesty, politicians wanting a sensible discussion should be prepared to consider its benefits.
This is consistent with the policy of UNISON Conference – agreed last year – which is that;
a) that no worker should be classed as illegal;
b) all workers have a right to put a roof over their head and food on the table;
c) all workers should enjoy the same rights at work, including the right to organise a union;
d) it is not the workers who should be blamed, prosecuted and deported for working here without papers, it is the employers and gangmasters who make it possible. Only with an amnesty for the workers and a few company directors prosecuted will we see any improvement in this shameful situation.
Several unions are doing good work to organise migrant workers – but without an amnesty many trade union members are vulnerable to being “shopped” to immigration – which means we are hamstrung in mobilising the collective strength of our members to contest the exploitation which they face from rogue employers.
The unions now have an opportunity to push this policy position forward at this year’s TUC Congress by putting the demand for an amnesty as an amendment to a very worthy motion on Migrant Workers which has been placed on the preliminary agenda by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS).
Will we take this opportunity or will we let migrant workers – including our migrant members – down?