FBU balloons on a demonstration

A group of trade union leaders have today accused the government of complicity in attacks on hotels housing refugees.

In recent moths, far right activists have been mobilising at hotels where asylum seekers are being housed while their applications are processed. Some of these protests have sparked violence. Earlier in February, 15 people were arrested after violence broke out outside a hotel in Knowsley.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman has attracted significant criticism for her comments following the attacks. She has said that there are ‘understandable tensions’ and insisted those targeting hotels were not racist.

14 trade unions have now signed an open statement alleging that the government is complicit in these attacks. The statement was coordinated by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and has been signed by the general secretaries of major unions including the RMT, NEU and GMB.

The statement reads: “In recent weeks, we have seen an alarming rise in violence and intimidation organised by the far right against refugees and refugee accommodation.

“The government is complicit in these attacks. The Rwanda policy does not make sense as a means of stopping small boat crossings – and it is failing on its own terms – but it fits with a long-running campaign of rhetoric and demonisation.

“Anti-migrant politics are an attempt to divide working class people against each other. In the past decade, the UK has suffered a crisis of living standards – with wages falling and public services left to rot. The people to blame for this are politicians, billionaires and big corporations, not migrant workers or refugees forced to live in temporary accommodation. The anti-refugee campaign offers no solutions to the real problems faced by the deprived communities they are often targeting. The answer is solidarity, not scapegoating.

“As trade unionists, we know whose side we are on when we see far right mobs attacking refugees and politicians playing the mood music. We send our solidarity to Care4Calais and all groups fighting for refugee rights, and we support the call for safe and legal routes into the UK. We call on workers and trade union members to show their solidarity and to mobilise against the far right.”

The full list of signatories to the statement are:

  • Matt Wrack – FBU General Secretary
  • Gary Smith – GMB General Secretary
  • Andrea Egan – UNISON President
  • Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney – NEU Joint General Secretaries
  • Mick Lynch – RMT General Secretary
  • Jo Grady – UCU General Secretary
  • Michelle Stanistreet – NUJ General Secretary
  • Mick Whelan – ASLEF General Secretary
  • Sarah Woolley – BFAWU General Secretary
  • Paul W Fleming – Equity General Secretary
  • Julia Georgiou – NHBC Staff Association General Secretary
  • Naomi Pohl – Musicians’ Union General Secretary
  • Steve Gillan – POA General Secretary
  • Rob Monks – URTU General Secretary

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Image credit: Socialist Appeal – Creative Commons