30 Nov 2009

Greens at Hands Off My Workmate

just had this from Jonathan, thanks mate, good example of social eco crossover, if you are on the left and pissed off with dodgy sects, right wing labour and the SWP why not just get involved in necessary stuff, a lot of it about!

Hello everyone!

Along with our fellow member and traveller, the great and Green Zain Sardar, I attended the Hands Off My Workmate activist meeting last Tuesday, and given our discussions relating to this at the London Fed meeting in October, and the fact that many Greens were either at the related conference, also in October (which launched the initiative), or have been involved with the campaigns relating to migrant workers in London, I thought I'd pass on details regarding the main areas of debate:

1. The possibility of a christmas appeal to provide some means of financial assistance to those cleaners forcibly removed in the raids on SOAS earlier this year. Although I imagine this will largely be confined to activity at SOAS.

2. The possibiltiy of a big demonstration towards the end of February 2010, against Immigration checks in the workplace etc. outside of the Home Office, with the goal of getting at least one major union to support the demo. The CWU was mooted as one possibility. It was suggested that people talk to their trade union branches about supporting such a demo and lending practical support. The broad timescale was considered necessary in order to properly try and build for a big demonstration among unions, student groups, political associations and so forth.

3. There was also discussion with regards to the cleaning contracts in Metronet being shifted between ISS to LCC (I believe). It was feared that a new company would use the hand over to further intimidate workers and that the RMT fear the possibiltiy of an attack on the London Living Wage and the imposition of new terms and conditions on migrant workers.

4. It was mentioned that it is not only cleaners but all migrant staff who are especially vulnerable, and so the focus should not only be on cleaning staff as it had a tendency to be.

5. I can't recall whether this was discussed or was simply one of my own thoughts that I jotted down, but it is probably important that those activists in union branches which either have migrant workers as members or as colleagues (whether or not they are yet unionised) discuss how to respond to immigration raids and checks that may come in the future, and discuss how to defend migrant workers should that happen. This is especially important within the public sector, and also within the context of a looming General Election when it will be important to look 'tough' on immigration. The Unison branches at SOAS, Birkbeck and elsewhere seem to have some experience with regards to this and might be able to provide guidance.

6. Juan Carlos Piedra, the sacked UCL cleaner, who was dismissed for his trade union activities, was in attendance and his campaign was discussed. The point was repeatedly made that at the very least another lunchtime picket at UCL before the end of term is essential, to at least maintain the momentum of his campaign and keep pressure on UCL management (who have been appalling) to grant the London Living Wage. Ultimately this will be his call I believe, but details should hopefully be forthcoming if there is to be any action, and will probably be in early-mid December.

7. The issue of student involvement and organisation was also brought up. It is my view that given the number of left-leaning student groups and students in London, this sort of campaign can be highly successful and unite the various Green, Socialist, and humanitarian student groups that exist into broad coalitions willing to fight on (hopefully) generally shared principles. But we shall see!

8. A young lady from the BBC was also in attendance and revealed that the BBC is making a documentary investigating the poor conditions experienced by many migrant workers on the London Underground.

I think that is all, though Zain can fill people in if I have forgotten or overstated anything ... if he is subscribed to this list!

Best wishes!

Jonathan Buckner

London Fed Youth and Student Officer

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