Our public services would collapse if it were not for the fantastic contribution made by thousands of migrant workers who day in and day out support our communities. But following the decision to leave the EU their future looks anything but certain.
The government has been caught out playing fast and loose with their futures, using them as a bargaining chip to force concessions from our EU partners. In what increasingly looks like a messy, confused and incoherent strategy Theresa May is letting them down. Many migrant workers now feel helpless and disempowered, with increasing numbers convinced that having to leave the UK and being made to return to their country of origin is inevitable. Not so.
That’s why UNISON organisers at Watford General Hospital have launched a project to support and organise migrant workers in the hospital. The aims of the project are simple – organise them, provide support and education and give them the confidence to speak out and campaign against this injustice.
Our organisers have been everywhere: all over the hospital in the canteen, at inductions, walking the wards and corridors. Basically anywhere and everywhere staff work or hang out. They’ve been listening as much as talking, trying to understand the issues and concerns of the workers, and as a result we’ve seen lots of new members and three new stewards. But that’s not all. An event last week attracted 73 workers, eight new members joined on the night and another steward signed up.
Speakers at the event were Enny Choudhury from the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, Nicolas Hatton from the3million campaign and Joan Pons Laplana, a Spanish nurse and activist from Norwich.
The success of the project so far has given all those involved a boost of energy. They’ve all pledged to continue to organise, inform and recruit members and to work with and support our new stewards. There are already plans for a lobby and a meeting with the Trust HR Director who will be challenged to put in place proper support for migrant workers, take a zero tolerance approach to racism in the workplace, arrange support for OSCE (overseas nurses’ qualification) and roll out IELT English classes.
Sounds like a great campaign platform doesn’t it? What sounds even better is that it’s rolling out to all trusts in the region. If you want to get on board, discuss it with your branch and ask your regional organiser to help develop the plan.