By Mick Duncan, No Sweat secretary
THE media has recently had a field day reporting how a number of councils, led by Tory flagship Westminster, have been putting pressure on the government over immigration. The local authorities in question claim that official statistics underestimate the number of migrant workers in the UK, and say that will have to make cuts in services unless something gives.
The councils themselves have taken a position which – for Tory councils – is remarkably reasonable. “It is important to stress that migrants are people first, and migrants second,” says Colin Barrow, deputy leader of Westminster Council. “This is not an anti-migration issue, we just need the extra funds to cope with the additional strain on our services.”
Inevitably, however, the press has taken the story up in a frenzy of anti-migration hysteria. The media has abounded with alleged horror stories like the one about Slough (population 125,000) being “flooded” (the term used on the BBC website) by (wait for it) 88 young Roma, a few of whom have the cheek to be pregnant!
In this foul climate, No Sweat’s new pamphlet on solidarity with migrant workers is a vital tool for every working-class and migrants’ rights activist.
It sets out the key facts on migrant workers in Britain and internationally; answers the right wing’s lies about migration and the working class; and combines inspiring stories of how migrant workers have organised to fight back with practical ideas for labour movement and solidarity campaigning.
The pamphlet makes the case for an approach which says that “no one is illegal”, uniting and organising workers regardless of their immigration status. Accepting the idea of controlled immigration only lets the bosses divide us.
It also stresses the role of migrant workers in helping to revitalise our labour movement. From mainly African cleaners on London Underground to Polish flower workers on the south coast, the story of migrant workers in Britain is one of oppression and exploitation, but also of bravery and solidarity. It has a lot to teach our trade unions.
This pamphlet is not only essential reading, but an essential tool kit for activists. Please get your union branch, student union or campaigning group to buy some.
• The pamphlet is £1.50 per copy, with discounts for bulk orders. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org