Campaign news

BFAWU Fully Supports Labour’s £10ph Pledge

By Ian Hodson

It’s great news that a mainstream political party has recognised the importance of taking positive action to raise pay. Since 2008, politicians from all parties along with many in the media, have pushed the narrative that society will somehow improve by imposing austerity and blaming minority groups for the state of the country’s finances. Sadly, many have fallen for this deception and the ‘look over there’ politics that has rose to prominence since the Conservatives returned to power in 2010.

Low pay and exploitative employment contracts are a blight on the economy and an insult to taxpayers, who have to foot the bill for in-work benefits whilst businesses and corporations count the profits. Labour’s announcement that they will raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour in the event of a general election win in 2020 is very welcome and should be applauded by all in our society.

The BFAWU has long argued that rather than being used to fill the bank accounts of wealthy business owners through the use of in-work benefits, our taxes should be used to properly fund our NHS and other public services that we rely on. By raising the minimum wage to £10 an hour, we can take a giant stride towards making that a reality.

The introduction of a £10 an hour minimum wage would be a game-changer for millions of working people, who are struggling to make ends meet, many of whom work in the food industry.

The BFAWU fully supports this pledge by Labour and as one of the party’s longest standing affiliates, we will continue to make the case for a Labour government in 2020.

Campaign news

Folkestone

Folkestone United – coming together to support migrants

Bridget Chapman, Folkestone United, reports

I moved to the Kent coast in May 2014. I knew I would miss the diversity of Brixton,  my home for the previous 15 years.  I also knew that some attitudes on the Kent coast would be problematic. Fear of migration is always highest where levels of migration are lowest.
I’m a union organiser so I threw myself into union activities in Kent.  While I was running a stall for the NUT one Saturday a woman gripped my arm and told me why she thought there was a shortage of school places. “It’s the Muslims”, she said, “They’re taking over. ”I looked up and down the crowded, and entirely white, high street and gently asked her, “Where are they?” She faltered, knowing, I think, that there really was no foundation for her assertion, and slipped away.
When the General Election build-up began in earnest, UKIP, which had a stronghold on the Kent coast, began ramping up its anti-immigrant rhetoric. I saw the impact of its relentless and blatant scaremongering. People became emboldened to say what had previously been unacceptable.
Working in Folkestone one day I entered into conversation with a man who was from Greenwich and, attempting to make conversation, I said that I had gone to school in Greenwich. “It’s awful round there now”, he said. He continued, “It’s all black. Do you know that there are schools where some classes are entirely black? If I had a gun, I’d shoot them.” He spoke in the bland, calm tones you might use to discuss the weather, and I realised that he assumed that I would agree with him.  He didn’t think he was saying anything particularly shocking.
At moments like this you can see how the Nazis rose to power. If the negative rhetoric used by groups like UKIP isn’t challenged, it opens the door to more extreme views. UKIP are not fascists but they are a gateway to fascism and that is why we must challenge the language they use.
Along with others I formed a group called Folkestone United to do just that. We came together in January 2015 and did all we could to counter the negative messages being put out about migration locally. We had stalls in the town centre every Saturday, leafleted, and held days of action.
After the General Election result we decided to keep going. We could see that, although UKIP had failed to convert their growing popularity into significant electoral success, the peddling of anti-immigrant rhetoric was something that wasn’t going away.
That proved to be the case with the growing Calais migrant crisis. . We became increasingly frustrated with the irresponsible tone of the reporting. Stories of two thousand migrants “storming” the Channel Tunnel proved to be false and dehumanising words like “swarm” and “flood’ abounded. The focus of the reporting seemed to be entirely on the inconvenience to holiday makers, and not on the desperate stories of the migrants fleeing violence, persecution and terrible hardship. 
When we heard a young teenage boy from Sudan had been found dead on top of one of the Channel Tunnel trains it broke our hearts. We decided that we needed to send a clear message to the migrants in Calais that we stood in solidarity with them, and the way they were being treated was not in our name. We also wanted to speak directly to the media, to tell them that we would no longer accept irresponsible, inaccurate and dehumanising coverage of this issue.
Along with Thanet Stand Up to UKIP we organised an impromptu demo at the Channel Tunnel terminal. It was a difficult venue for people to reach and it wasn’t a huge protest, but in terms of press coverage it was a great success. News teams from all across Europe covered it and it was the lead story on the BBC and Channel 4 News that night. Since then we’ve had a steady stream of journalists coming to do follow-up stories. We’ve had visits from Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish and French news teams, all keen to cover a story about a pro-migrant group.
We’ve now built links with L’Auberge des Migrants, a group working to support migrants in the Calais camps and are planning a solidarity visit in mid-September - taking donated goods and cash donations. The response from people in Folkestone has been overwhelming.
There’s lots more work to do and this is just the beginning. We’re looking forward to the challenges ahead, such as the European elections in 2019. One of our local MEPs is Janice Atkinson who, having been thrown out of UKIP, has joined Marine Le Pen’s fascist group in the European Parliament. It is a stain on the name of our town that she represents us. Come 2019 we want to make sure that she is given her marching orders.
And there is work to be done to build tolerance and reduce fear. The damaging myths around migration need to be destroyed. This is not the time to be silent.

Campaign news

No Witch-Hunts In The GMB, Reinstate Keith Henderson

No Witch-Hunts In The GMB, Reinstate Keith Henderson (The Online Petition)

Keith Henderson Essex LRC member and former Regional Organiser of the GMB Union was dismissed from the GMB last December, Keith has always believed that the real reason for his dismissal was because of his socialist beliefs and the manifestation of his beliefs.

It has now been proven in a recent Employment Tribunal Judgment that a substantial part of the reasoning behind Keith’s dismissal was because of his philosophical belief in left wing democratic socialism and was an effective cause of his dismissal.

This online petition has been setup to support Keith’s reinstatement.

All LRC members are urged to express their support for Keith by signing this petition to urge Keith’s reinstatement.

Click here to sign the online petition

Labour Briefing

Campaign news

Labour Briefing

Please see our Labour Briefing Website here:

LabourBriefing.org

Stop Welfare Reform

Campaign news

Stop welfare reform

The LRC is supporting a broad alliance of campaign groups and trade unions against the proposals in the Welfare Reform Bill (currently before Parliament) and putting forward our alternative based on social justice and welfare for all.

Their Crisis Not Ours!

Campaign news

Their crisis not ours

Across the country working people are losing their jobs and their homes. Meanwhile the bankers who plunged us into this crisis have been bailed out with billions of pounds of our money. It’s time to fight back. Their Crisis Not Ours! is the LRC’s campaign to bring together workers, pensioners, the unemployed, students, those facing repossession and all those suffering because of an economic crisis that has been imposed on us. The campaign is supporting the demands of the People’s Charter.

Action For Rail

Campaign news

For A People’s Railway

Rail bosses are using the recession as an excuse to attack jobs and conditions and cut back on services and essential rail works, and hike rail fares - as LEAP research suggested they would. Thousands of jobs are being threatened or have been lost. At the same time rail fat cats are raking in big profits and bonuses on the back of the most expensive fares in Europe. Make no mistake: as the recession worsens so will the attack on rail workers and rail services.

Defend Jobs. Defend Services. For a People’s Railway!

Keep the post public

Campaign news

Keep the post public

The campaign calling on the Government to abandon its plans for privatisation of Royal Mail. The Government has introduced the Postal Services Bill to part-privatise the Royal Mail. With our affiliate union CWU we are fighting to Keep the Post Public!

Defend council housing

Campaign news

Defend council housing

The campaign to demand the Government funds improvements to all existing council housing, and to start building first class council homes to address housing need. For more information see Defend Council Housing website.

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