This motion was on the order paper for the UCU NEC meeting of 6th July.
It was remitted on a vote of 34 for, 22 against, 5 abstentions
Miliband’s regrettable speech
UCU deeply regrets the decision of Ed Miliband, and others in the Labour Party leadership, to blame Eastern European immigrants for low wages, unemployment, the housing shortage, and the health and welfare crisis.
UCU notes the facts that immigrants are less likely to make welfare claims than others, pay more in taxes than they receive in public services, and have higher than average education qualifications. It notes that there is no evidence of any correlation between immigration and falling wage rates. Immigration is good for Britain economically, and is to be celebrated as the foundation of the vibrancy of Britain’s multiculturalism.
UCU Believes that unemployment is the consequence of an economic stagnation caused by the global crisis and the dysfunctionality of the banking and finance sector, and is exacerbated by the Government’s austerity policies. It believes that the financial crisis of the health and welfare system has been created by twenty years of the Private Finance Initiative that has undermined the NHS in the interests of profiteering, and by regressive changes to the taxation system that have made Britain one of the most unequal countries in the developed world. It believes that the housing crisis is a consequence of the sell-off of the municipal housing stock, and impediments to local authority house building. It believes that the problem of low wages can only be solved by the replacement of the minimum wage by a ‘living wage’, by repeal of the anti-trade union legislation, and by the recruitment of immigrants into the trade union movement.
Blaming immigrants for the consequences of government policy is not only wrong analytically, it is tactically inept in allowing the coalition government to elude the blame for its worsening of the crisis, and the banking sector for its responsibility for the crisis. It deflects attention from the real culprits. Miliband’s speech is also now being used as a vindication of the BNP’s core policy. Nick Griffin has described Miliband as having become the BNP’s “recruiting sergeant”.
To issue an immediate statement to this effect to all the national media, with the text of this motion circulated to all members;
To approach sympathetic union executives to seek:-
- A joint condemnation of Miliband’s speech along the above lines, to be publicised in the national media, and to members, including an appeal to members of the Labour Party to disown the sentiments of the speech;
- A specific, TUC-funded advertising and organising initiative to recruit immigrants, from the EU and beyond, into the trade union ,movement;
- An investigation of the feasibility of a jointly hosted and funded trade union conference on ‘labour, migration and trade unionism’ in the Spring or Summer of 2013 to consider, in part, a trade union alliance against bigotry in the workplace and in our communities.