FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A new initiative has today been launched with the aim of posing reshaping the immigration debate in the Labour Party and beyond.
The Labour Campaign for Free Movement, launched today with the support of MPs, MEPs, trade unions and prominent figures in Labour Party organisations, will make the case for the free movement of people in the context of Brexit.
Its founding statement urges Labour to take a path of “clarity, humanity and solidarity”, and to turn the tables on the idea that migrants are to blame for “the product of decades of underinvestment, deregulation, privatisation, and the harshest anti-union laws in Europe”, The campaign argues that the answer to these problems is public investment and better rights for workers, not border controls. “Labour is the party of all working people – regardless of where they were born”, it adds.
The campaign, which is backed by prominent trade unionists and grassroots workplace activists, will hit back at the idea that free movement and immigration undercut wages. “A system of free movement is the best way to protect and advance the interests of all workers, by giving everyone the right to work legally, join a union and stand up to their boss without fear of deportation or destitution. Curtailing those rights, or limiting migrants’ access to public services and benefits, will make it easier for unscrupulous employers to hyper-exploit migrant labour, which in turn undermines the rights and conditions of all workers,” its founding statement says.
Party activists and trade unions are expected to put together a series of motions ahead of Labour Party conference on the subject, and to organise public meetings.
Manuel Cortes, General Secretary of the TSSA, said: “We are fully committed to challenging and fighting unscrupulous bosses who exploit EU migrants. We put the blame firmly on the perpetrators not the victims. We strongly believe that free movement enriches our society. Our slogan is powerful but simple, end workers exploitation not free movement”
Julie Ward, MEP for the North West, said: “Labour must stand up for Freedom of Movement, for a pluralistic society, and for the rights of EU nationals who live, work, study and pay into our tax economy. We must never cede greater benefits for capital and goods than we do for people.”
Michael Chessum, an organiser for the Labour Campaign for Free Movement, said: “Labour’s immigration stance has for far too long been dominated by pandering to the idea that immigration is to blame for a fall in living standards. This isn’t just factually wrong, it’s also self-defeating – because we need a narrative that is clear and honest about the fact that neo-liberalism and exploitation are the real problem. That has to be backed up with policy, not just sentiment. We beat the Tories when we’re principled and offer alternatives – that’s the lesson of the general election”
Kelly Rogers, a striker in the Ritzy Cinema Picturehouse dispute, said: “The Leave vote was not a mandate to strip anyone of their rights. If free movement ends, all workers will lose – because without free movement migrants are forced into illegality and hyper exploitation. We need to stand together against rip off bosses and rip off landlords, not turn on each other.”