Andrea Gilbert, IWW BAME officer
The IWW BAME Officer brought forward a motion at the Equalities Committee meeting on Wednesday 16th December. The motion was brought to the Committee in support of unhoused migrants at risk of being reported to the Home Office by organisations who should be supporting them.
The IWW has an amazing history of supporting unhoused people. In Canada the Ottawa panhandlers set up in 2003 had members such as the unhoused and other vulnerable groups. The union during this time fought systemic oppression by those unhoused, buskers, and other groups who are on the streets. Please see more info here https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottawa_Panhandlers%27_Union
In Liverpool 2015 the IWW supported a campaign against Unhoused people being fined by the council for a social crime of Homelessness. The local council scrapped their consultation plans to fine unhoused people 8 days before the conclusion was supposed to be back. The Liverpool IWW vowed to continue to fight for the interests of working class people – see article below https://archive.iww.org/content/victory-people-power-forces-liverpool-council-homeless-fines-u-turn/
The IWW will continue to support unhoused people especially those who have precarious immigration status. The BAME officer hopes that all branches of the union will help this work along.
While thousands of unhoused people, including migrants with ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF), were given shelter during the first wave of COVID-19 under the ‘Everyone In’ programme, this funding has not been extended.
Councils and support organisations expect the number of unhoused people to dramatically worsen this winter, as an eviction crisis and continuing austerity drive people onto the streets, while much of the normal network of winter night shelters is unable to open because of COVID-19.
The government announced new changes to Home Office immigration rules impacting many migrants, which took effect on 1 December, stating that:
“9.21.1. Permission to stay may be refused where the decision maker is satisfied that a person has been rough sleeping in the UK.”
“9.21.2. Where the decision maker is satisfied that a person has been rough sleeping in the UK any permission held by the person may be cancelled. “
Major charities including Crisis, Shelter, St Mungo’s, and Homeless Link have said they will ‘punish people for being homeless and take them further away from seeking support’, as well as endanger human trafficking victims and domestic abuse survivors.
The Home Office has previously been found to be using ‘immigration surgeries’ in services to for unhoused people to gather information about unhoused migrant, and unhoused outreach services such as St Mungo’s collaborated directly with the Home Office.
In 2017 the High Court ruled that previous Home Office actions to deport EU migrant unhoused people were unlawful and discriminatory.
These new rules represent a dramatic escalation of the racist hostile environment in support services, and will lead to fearful migrant unhoused people avoiding engaging with support because of the risk of deportation.
The union movement stands with migrants and the most vulnerable; people are without accommodation because they have been let down by years of austerity economics, an unjust housing market and the government’s lack of adequate support during a global pandemic, and it is reprehensible that the government are punishing the most vulnerable for their own failures.
Our jobs require gaining the trust of people in the most vulnerable and precarious times of their lives, and unless we have the funding to help those who need it and the guarantee that nobody will be victimised for seeking support, our work will be effectively under-resourced.
The preamble to the IWW constitution states “there can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions”, so it is natural for our union to take a stand against the Home Office’s actions.
- Endorses the GLA’s decision to deny the Home Office access to the CHAIN database and advise GLA’S commissioned services not to share information with the Home Office or facilitate deportations.
- Calls for organisations which support unhoused people to refuse to carry out any action which could facilitate the removal of migrant unhoused people from the UK or share their data with the Home Office, without their express and informed consent.
- Calls for working practices that ensure that employees of any relevant organisation will not have to be complicit with any action that may lead to someone’s deportation.
- Endorses the ‘Support not Deport’ workers charter and campaign for it to be adopted in all workplaces — draft here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1sp_4LJ3quD278JOFWVYFScGlA_nltB3rmcf84QtNsYo/edit