One of the sites of interest to the border tour-ists in Glasgow was the YMCA because of it's partnership with the IOM (International Organisation of Migration) and its proposed involvement in the Home Office's forced labour scheme for some asylum seekers.
Back in May in a two pronged approach, voluntary sector workers, trade unionists, council workers, refugees and human rights protesters directly protested in Liverpool and Birmingham at Government plans to pilot a forced slave labour scheme for asylum seekers with the help of the voluntary sector's YMCA. As a result the YMCA has since withdrawn from the scheme, but other voluntary sector organisations have expressed an interest in running the scheme and the struggle against immigration slave labour continues.No One is Illegal letter | Birmingham protests | Liverpool protests | Make Borders History
There were protests in Liverpool where the scheme was to be piloted with the assistance of the YMCA. Protests happened inside the closed meeting with the Home Office and the voluntary sector and outside the meeting.
In Birmingham at the Rt Rev Dr. John Sentamu's, the Bishop of Birmingham's residence, protestors including refugees formed a press gang of manacled refugees with the letters YMCA branded on their backs meticulously cleaned the Bishop's residence with toothbrushes.
The Rt Rev Dr. John Sentamu has since been named as the new Archbishop of York and he is also the president of the YMCA and a former refugee himself. His organisation is also a partner of the International Organisation of Migration (IOM), an international organisation orientated around controlling migration.
The Rt Rev Dr. John Sentamu provoked considerable controversy three years ago when he supported Blunkett's plans to intern refugees and educate their children separately in 'special centres' before their cases were decided upon [ Link ].
The two pronged protests appear to have been successful and the YMCA has withdrawn from the pilot scheme. The scheme was planned to be piloted by the YMCA in Liverpool. The chain gang of manacled protestors also hand delivered the No One is Illegal letter to the Bishop of Birmingham's residence where his Chaplain Andrew Gorham promised the Bishop would respond. In Liverpool voluntary sector workers, council workers and trade unionists pledged to take 'direct action' against the YMCA and its collusion in the forced labour scheme if it is still to go ahead.
The forced labour scheme, a result of section 10 of the Asylum and Immigration Act 2004, has been directly compared to slave labour by groups such as No One is Illegal and has been condemned by the Joint Committee on Human Rights of the House of Lords/House of Commons. It means that asylum seekers who's claims fail and have no way of returning because their 'return' is too dangerous or they find themselves 'stateless', will be forced to work in so called 'community service schemes' for their basic needs. Otherwise they will be forced onto the streets and risk being interned in Britain's network of detention centres or face imminent deportation.
As a result of the protests earlier in the day in Birmingham, where human rights protesters and refugees hand delivered a letter written by No One is illegal, the Chaplain of the Bishop of Birmingham promised the Bishop would reply. In the afternoon protests inside and outside the meeting of the Home Office and the YMCA in Liverpool resulted in promises by voluntary sector workers, council workers and trade unionists to take direct action against the YMCA and its collusion in the forced labour scheme. The scheme was planned to be piloted by the YMCA in Liverpool.
Although the YMCA have withdrawn from the piloted scheme refugee solidarity groups urge vigiliance. The YMCA in other cities may decide to collude in the scheme. When the Act was being debated in the House of Lords, Lord Rooker encouraged voluntary sector groups to get involved. He also suggested that this compulsory refugee labour could be used for the maintenance of the refugee’s own accommodation – which is a way local authorities and private companies can get otherwise unlettable properties updated for free. "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance" - Section 10 still exists and others expressed an interest in running the pilot. The struggle against immigration slave labour continues.Make Borders History | noborder network | No One is Illegal! | Campaign Against Immigration Slavery Continues
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