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ANTI-RACISTS face a “big fight” to get a Labour government to take refugee issues seriously, Public and Commercial Services general secretary Fran Heathcote said today.
Arguing that her union’s Safe Passage Visa Policy was the only answer to stop dangerous small boat crossings in the English Channel at Stand Up To Racism’s conference in central London, she said: “What we cannot do is sit back and wait for a Labour government and think that’s all going to be OK.
“We met with shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper who was very clear to us that what we were arguing for wasn’t a policy that Labour would support.
“We are going to have a big fight on our hands, I would suggest to get anybody — whoever is in the next government — to get all of this taken seriously.”
Candy Udwin, of the Portland campaign against the Bibby Stockholm barge, urged trade unionists not to take part in anti-migrant campaigns for better local services.
She said: “Local trade unions have said there are real concerns, real local issues we have to fight … but they then actually marched with the racists because they have ‘real local issues.’
“I don’t believe that’s our tradition: if you go back to Cable Street, we have always in every one of our leaflets talked about why we need more local resources but we have always said we are welcome to refugees.”
She said that the contract for the “floating prison” barge will run out by Christmas and asked: “If we have a Labour government, are they going to scrap the Bibby Stockholm? We need to know that.”
Unison’s black members committee chairman Kebba Manneh said that the difference in governmental response to the Post Office-Horizon and the Windrush scandals shows “what the neoconservatives are doing.”
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