At our most recent delegate meeting on 3rd September 2020, Birmingham Trades Union Council delegates unanimously passed a motion in support of refugees and asylum seekers. Delegates also resolutely condemned the actions of far-right groups like Britain First, who are targeting hotels housing refugees and asylum seekers in the West Midlands and videoing themselves doing so. At a time when the far right continue to cause those in need to fear for their safety, delegates lent their resolved solidarity.

It’s important to stress the following points:

•         Anti-racism and solidarity must be at the heart of our trade unionism and the labour movement as a whole. Refugees and asylum seekers flee persecution, war, poverty and devastation to seek safety and refuge in the UK, as is their right.

•         The labour movement must be at the forefront of challenging that hate and hysteria. Birmingham Trade Union Council stand ready to work with all allies in that effort. We will seek to support organisations on the frontline of support, as far as we are able

•         Britain First are not acting in a vacuum. A climate of hate and hysteria has been created against refugees, asylum seekers and indeed migrants as a whole cohort by the politicians pursuing a hostile environment and the media.

• In only focusing on a need to harden its borders,         Britain has failed to take account of its moral and legal obligations to support and house refugees and asylum seekers.

•         The labour movement must be at the forefront of challenging that hate and hysteria. Birmingham Trade Union Council stand ready to work with all allies in that effort.

•         The housing of refugees is currently contracted to Serco in the West Midlands, who have a track record of winning huge outsourced contracts and failing to deliver them properly. The stories of refugees being treated appallingly at their hands are long standing. Such terrible conditions illustrate again the failure of the neoliberal outsourcing model, with basic respect for dignity and humanity has been lost in the pursuits of profit.

•         Birmingham City Council have suffered savage cuts to their funding since 2010 and the pressures have only increased during the pandemic. However, we must ensure that BCC does not downgrade or reduce its support to the most systematically marginalised people in our community. Central government must provide BCC with sufficient resources to house and support refugees. BCC ought to seek these additional resources but also campaign to end the involvement of outsourced providers such as Serco, instead calling for a devolution of this responsibility to local authorities. We will be writing to Councillor Ian Ward, the leader of BCC, to request the same.

We’ll also be writing to all of our branches with a copy of the motion and a copy of this statement. We will additionally request branches join us in supporting relief efforts on the ground, in the form of donations (both in kind and financial) and volunteer support, where possible. We will endeavour to keep in close contact with frontline organisations and continue sharing information on how to support refugees and asylum seekers. 

In solidarity,

Birmingham Trade Union Council