Guardian letter: After the EU Referendum, we need Free Movement for All
David Davis (‘EU workers may get backdated deadline to stay’, Guardian 18th July), Secretary of State for exiting the EU, has focused his attention on removing the rights of EU workers in the UK.
The new Conservative Prime Minister, Theresa May, is also interpreting the Brexit vote as a vote to end the free movement of labour within the European Union. But the Government has no mandate to do so.
The referendum vote was a vote to leave the EU, not to end the free movement of labour.
This is true despite misleading media “debates” blaming savage welfare cuts and worsening working conditions on immigrants and refugees, thus fuelling the post-referendum fivefold peak in race hate crimes.
Absent from these “debates” are key facts, such as that immigrant workers contribute far more in taxes than they draw down in benefits, or that public and private industries – from factories, farming and construction to the universities and the NHS – depend on the work of immigrant workers. We recognise the huge social, cultural and economic value of migration
These “debates” divert the attention of local working people from the real causes of their concerns: the ongoing economic crisis, widening international inequalities, war, austerity, and attacks on workers’ rights and conditions.
If, as a result of UK-EU negotiations, free movement within the European Economic Area ends, then EEA workers will be drawn into the same Points-Based Immigration Scheme, subject to the same continual visa restrictions and employer-sponsorship arrangements that non-EEA workers currently face. Something similar will likely happen to UK nationals living in or moving to the EEA. And all this will set off further demands for restrictions on non-EU immigrants.
This vicious circle will put increasing competitive pressure on local working people as well, and weaken workers’ collective power and international solidarity.
The trade union movement has a long history of fighting alongside and defending immigrant workers, from Grunwicks in the 1970s to current campaigns against the Points-Based Immigration Scheme.
As the experience of the UK and Ireland shows, open borders work.
We therefore believe it is right and timely to campaign for the free movement of labour, both within and without the EEA, under the slogan Free Movement for All.
Initial signatories include
Dave Muritu, Chair, UCU Equality Committee, UCU NEC, Sandwell College
Lucia Pradella, Kings College London
Dr Phoebe Moore, UCU Rep Law and Politics, Middlesex University London
Chris Jones, UCU NEC, President UCU Wales
Sean Wallis, UCU NEC, University College London
Marion Hersh, UCU NEC, University of Glasgow
Rachel Cohen, UCU NEC, City University of London
Jeff Fowler, UCU NEC, University of Sunderland
Bruce Heil, UCU NEC, The Open University
Lesley McGorrigan, UCU NEC, University of Leeds
Sue Abbott, UCU NEC, Northumbria University
Carlo Morelli UCU NEC, University of Dundee
Amy Jowett, UCU NEC, Hackney ACE
Sean Vernell, UCU NEC, City and Islington College
Patricia McManus, UCU NEC, University of Brighton
Margot Hill, UCU NEC, Croydon College
Alan J Ryan, UCU NEC, De Montfort University
Julia Charlton, UCU NEC, Northumbria University
Paul Errington, UCU NEC, Teeside University
Joan Harvey, UCU NEC, Newcastle University
Vicky Blake, UCU NEC, University of Leeds
Ariane Bogain, UCU NEC, Northumbria University
Xanthe Whittaker, UCU NEC, Leicester University
Mick Dawson, UCU NEC, Brooklands College