Defence of asylum seekers grows
Shaming Tesco over ‘asylo’ rip off
A FIGHTBACK is starting across Britain at Tory leader William Hague’s attacks on asylum seekers. Many local campaigns are being set up to counter the stream of filth from the Tories, which has been echoed by New Labour ministers.
BRISTOL: Refugee supporters in Bristol held a lively protest outside the Tesco Metro in the Broadmead shopping centre last week to highlight how the supermarket is exploiting the refugee voucher system. Jo, a local activist, said, “We handed out leaflets which said how disgusted we were that Tesco was cooperating with the government’s voucher scheme. The supermarket can pocket any change from the vouchers. Around 12 of us got together at short notice to petition the lunchtime and evening shoppers on three occasions. We got about 150 signatures and there was a very good response. Our protest really rattled Tesco management. They tried to claim in the local press that they weren’t taking part in the scheme. But refugee organisations confirm the supermarket is involved. We think we should pile the pressure on Tesco and stop the profiteering from refugees.”
LEEDS: The National Union of Teachers in Leeds has voted to back the statement, and to protest to the Home Office about its decision to force Kosovan refugees to return to the Balkans. Jean Wood, a teacher at the city’s Primrose High School, told Socialist Worker, “We have about 30 Kosovan students in our school in years seven to 12, and some adult interpreters. They want to stay here. Two of them wrote letters about how worried they were to go back to Kosovo. It is not safe for them to return, no matter what Jack Straw says. He should not be let off the hook. We want to try to keep the Kosovans here. I don’t think people should be treated like packages.”
GREENWICH: A 16 year old school student in Greenwich, south east London, took the statement defending refugees round her classmates. “I collected signatures in two lunchtimes,” said Beatrice from Blackheath Hill School, “I got about 50 school students to sign it. Most of them thought the stuff against refugees was out of order-that they’re being treated like criminals. It’s a mixed school so loads of people get worked up about racism. They could see the link between general attacks on black people and refugees. Some of them took leaflets and petitions home to take round their family and friends.”
STOCKPORT: Lecturers in Stockport College NATFHE voted to back the statement over refugees at a union meeting. John Baxter, the secretary of Stockport NATFHE, said, “People wanted to show how seriously they took the issue of refugees. The statement supporting refugees was also passed unanimously at the North West region meeting of NATFHE, and we collected 40 from the delegates towards a national advert.”
COVENTRY: Campaigners in Coventry went around the Willenhall estate, where the local press has claimed there is tension between refugees and local people. The chair of the tenants’ association, Jim Deehan, said he supported the asylum seekers and took copies of the statement to take round.
EAST DULWICH: The tenants’ association on London’s East Dulwich estate voted overwhelmingly to condemn racist scapegoating of refugees.
BRADFORD: In Bradford around 30 people attended a meeting on Wednesday of last week of Biasam, a group providing legal advice and help to refugees. The group decided to meet regularly to organise against the hysteria whipped up around refugees.
Recent signatories to the statement condemning the witch-hunt of refugees include: Bill Morris, general secretary TGWU; Jeremy Corbyn MP; Dorothy Grace Elder MSP; Bob Laxton MP; South Yorkshire NAPO; Ed Sweeney, general secretary UNIFI; East Finchley/Golders Green ASLEF; Goldsmiths’ College NUS executive; Bexley Trades council; Greenwich Trades Council; Greenwich UNISON; Bill Ronksley, ex-president of ASLEF, president of Sheffield Trades Council and five other members of the executive; Peter Donnellan, president PCS; John Sheldon, joint general secretary PCS; Hugh Lanning, deputy general secretary PCS; Chris Rogers, leader Air Traffic Control PCS; and 255 other delegates from PCS conference.
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