Trade unionists are stepping up their solidarity with refugees stuck at Britain’s border.
An Afghan refugee was run over and killed by a heavy goods lorry in Calais last week. A young Syrian refugee barely escaped with his life after being run over by a lorry. And three Iranian refugees were rescued with mild hypothermia in an inflatable boat in the Channel.
Teacher Sara Tomlinson was one of a group of trade unionists who went to Calais last weekend bringing £1,000 in donations. Authorities demolished half of the “jungle” shantytown last month.
Sara said, “Land that was once full of tents, caravans, shops, cafes, a legal advice centre and places to distribute aid is now a wasteland.”
The French state’s actions have provoked outrage—but it is Britain’s government that traps refugees in the camp by refusing to let them enter Britain.
Major social work organisations now back a solidarity initiative called by the Social Work Action Network (Swan) on 4-6 June.
These include the Association of Professors of Social Work, the organisation JUC/SWEC that runs every social work course in Britain, Labour Social Work Group, the European Association of Schools of Social Work and the International Federation of Social Work. The Unison union is also backing it.
Swan is to lead a convoy to Calais and Dunkirk straight after its conference on 4 June. Groups in other countries will hold actions at borders and refugee camps.
Michael Lavalette from Swan told Socialist Worker, “We’re going to show solidarity and bring supplies—and to use social workers’ expertise to produce a report to show the government.”
He said the support was a “green light” to social workers and social work students to organise delegations from their workplace or course.