Congress is appalled at the treatment of the ‘Windrush generation’. Deported or shamed into leaving the country, refused vital healthcare, separated from families and asked for multiple pieces of documentation, for every year, for decades.
Far from accidental, this is the inevitable outcome of the ‘hostile environment’, turning public service workers, private landlords and UK banks into immigration officers. Migrant people are being treated as second class citizens by a raft of legislation that impinges on every aspect of their life, a violation of citizens’ fundamental rights. Congress notes this ‘hostile environment’ started under the then Home Secretary, now Prime Minister, Theresa May, who deployed ‘go home’ vans around London in 2013.
Rather than appease anti-immigrant sentiment, this has led to an emboldened and violent far-right, white nationalist movement. UKIP policies have been mainstreamed and groups such as Britain First, the Football Lads Alliance and ‘For Britain’ are mobilising in our streets – and are seeking to radicalise young people online. These developments have also seen a targeted attack on RMT members and others in London by supporters of Tommy Robinson, representing an attack on the whole trade union movement.
Congress is deeply concerned that with political and economic turmoil ahead, communities are being divided while trust in public services and institutions is eroded.
Congress recognises, on the 70th anniversary of both the creation of the NHS and the docking of the Empire Windrush, the contribution to the NHS made by the Windrush generation since its inception and throughout its history. Without migration the health and care service could not survive.
- The Home Office administrative hurdles placed in the way of the Windrush generation to have their British citizenship recognised cause hardship, deprivation, denial of public and health services and their right to work and, in some cases, lead to deportation.
- That 120,000 children, many born in the UK, including children who are stateless, are required to register their entitlement to British citizenship, which is their right.
- That to access their citizenship right, children, their parents or guardians are required to pay an exorbitant and prohibitively high registration fee of £1,012, of which £372 is said to constitute the cost of administration and £640 is profit to the Home Office.
- That for those children who are in local authority care, such a fee constitutes a direct transfer of funds from hard-pressed local authorities to the Home Office.
Congress applauds, and resolves to support, the campaign by Amnesty International UK to:
- remove any element of the registration fee over and above the actual cost of administration
- exempt the entire fee in the case of children in local authority care
- introduce a waiver of the fee in the case of any child who is unable to afford the administrative cost of registration
- improve awareness so that children exercise their rights to registration before a host of deplorable Windrush-type barriers and additional costs impact them when they reach 18 years of age.
Congress calls on the General Council to campaign:
- to end the ‘hostile environment’ for all immigrants and for an independent inquiry into its implementation
- for a rights-based and humane immigration policy that ensures the dignity of all workers and that tackles labour market exploitation
- for the restoration of full rights for those affected by the Windrush scandal and full compensation for losses suffered
- to reject the blame the government have placed on Home Office staff, and work with the Home Office unions to expose Conservative government
- to raise awareness of, and celebrate, the enormous contribution made by the Windrush generation and other migrant people to the NHS and all public services over many years, and which they will continue to make in the
- to organise within our communities and at work to challenge the rise of the far-right and tackle the politics of hate, wherever they
- to organise a conference/forum of affiliates to discuss a trade union-based response to the threat of the far
Supporters: Public and Commercial Services Union; National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers; Chartered Society of Physiotherapy; Royal College of Midwives