After over a year of mounting pressure against TUI, the airline has said it will stop deporting people for the Home Office. It’s a victory for migrants and anti-racists as the Tory government has lost the main airline that flew charter flights.
The announcement on Monday came after regular Stop TUI protests supported by a coalition of organisations. They included Black Activists Rising Against Cuts, Global Justice Now and Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants.
The campaign is not ruling out further actions. It said, “We continue to urge TUI to publicly state their regret for running charter deportations, to distance themselves from the Home Office, and to make a firm commitment that they will not become re-involved in the future.”
Steve Jackson from the StopTUI campaign in Brighton believes the victory will have a wider impact. He told Socialist Worker, “Tens of thousands of people face unjust discrimination and persecution at the hands of an increasingly authoritarian border regime.
“We must act in solidarity, not charity, to oppose and reverse the hostile environment.”
The campaign organised a national day of action last August which saw protests and the shutting down of TUI travel agency stores in ten cities. The following month a large and lively demonstration in Brighton marched from the Labour-left festival, The World Transformed, to the TUI headquarters.
Heidi, an activist with Global Justice Now who was at the demonstration, told Socialist Worker, “The protest brought together local people with organised anti-racists. We felt determined and inspired to end TUI’s deportations.
“Now everyone’s hard work has paid off, but the fight against the hostile environment continues.”
Since TUI started helping the Home Office deport people in 2020, it has caused misery for people trapped in Britain’s deadly immigration system. The company was responsible for hundreds of deportation. It ran nine flights to 19 destinations as part of Operation Sillath in November 2020 alone.
Deportations are racist and dangerous. Five men were killed after being deported to Jamaica in 2019. A 19 year-old asylum seeker killed himself, fearing he would be deported back to Afghanistan last year.
TUI is one of the firms that profits from the hostile environment. Its key owner, Russian billionaire oligarch, Alexey Mordashov, made his fortune from privatisation following the collapse of Stalinist Russia in 1991. His family holding company took £83.5 million in dividends from TUI in 2019.
According to StopTUI, some seats on the company’s charter flights let bosses grab in excess of £10,000. TUI also cut 23,000 jobs from its global workforce yet continued to pay huge salaries to bosses. CEO Fritz Joussen managed to pocket £1.4 million.
In a statement StopTUI said, “We have clearly shown that huge swathes of the population oppose the hostile environment. When our communities are attacked, we stand up and fight back.
“We have sent a message loud and clear to anyone complicit in mistreating and demonising migrants. Businesses cannot quietly support the Home Office’s brutal regime without their operations suffering.”
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