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October, 2016:

Report: Event on Syria, Calais & Refugee Solidarity

Last Tuesday, Bath UCU co-hosted a film screening of “The White Helmets” (Trailer) with the Bath SU Amnesty International Society.

Alaa opens the session

Alaa opens the session

The session was opened by Alaa Al Khourdajie, a Postgraduate UCU member and UCU Contact in the Department of Economics, who spoke about some of the actions we can take in response to the ‘refugee crisis’ and introduced two speakers:

  • Bernie Howley, Founder and Chair of Bath Welcomes Refugees, outlined the work that the group are doing to help settle and support refugees in Bath;
  • Christopher Roche, Bath UCU Vice President, spoke about a recent trip to deliver donations to and work in the refugee camp in Calais, the urgent need to allow refugees into the UK ahead of the impending razing of the camp by the French government and asked for people to support the “Phone Credit for Refugees Project“.
Chris talks about a recent trip to the refugee camp in Calais

Chris talks about a recent trip to the refugee camp in Calais

Alaa introduced the film, which tells the story of “The White Helmets“, volunteer rescue workers in Syria, responding to military attacks in civilian areas. The film is available now to watch online through Netflix.

Students and staff keen to understand and take action on the 'refugee crisis'

Students and staff keen to understand and take action on the ‘refugee crisis’

The sessions was very well attended, and the staff and students present donated over £200 in cash, plus more online and by phone, to three organisations:

If you were unable to attend the event, please take a look at the links above and consider making a donation.

The Bath UCU branch will continue to campaign for the rights of refugees, and all migrants in the UK. We continue to support calls for the creation of university scholarships for refugees and are making plans for future deliveries of donations and volunteer to workers to Calais and elsewhere. If you would like to become more involved in these initiatives, please email ucu-sec@bath.ac.uk.

 

Announcements on ‘Foreign Workers’, Support & Action

The follow has been sent to all members of University of Bath UCU:

Dear Bath UCU colleague,

We were disturbed by recent announcements about workers from countries other than the UK, and concerned about the effect of those announcements on the climate of racism, xenophobia and bigotry that has worsened since the European referendum. A summary of the support available to our international members can be found below, along with actions that all members are encouraged to take.

Recent Developments

Last Tuesday, Home Secretary Amber Rudd announced that UK firms would be required to state the proportion of ‘foreign’ staff that they employ in order to encourage the employment of ‘domestic’ ones. Widespread condemnation and growing pressure appear to have resulted in a partial scaling back of the proposals, such that employers will be required to provide but not openly publish the information.

Nevertheless, the logic of the proposal is to imply blame for the unemployment of ‘British’ workers on the employment of ‘foreign’ ones. This can only legitimate a xenophobic and racist discourse directed against workers from other countries, and the companies and sectors of the economy that employ them, including in Higher Education.

The Conservative Party conference also heard plans to reduce the number of international students in the UK through further restrictions to study and work visas. UCU General Secretary, Sally Hunt, has publicly condemned the proposals.

On Friday, reports emerged that ‘foreign’ academics had been barred from government advisory roles. The implication of the decision is that non-UK nationals are not to be trusted on matters of national policy, and has the further implication that UK nationals are to be expected to act in the interests of the state at all times. This is a dangerous precedent for all academic staff.

UCU Branch Activity & Support Available

It is now particularly important that our colleagues and students who have moved to the UK from other countries know that they are appreciated and welcome. We all have a part to play in ensuring that this message is heard.

Bath UCU branch committee has co-opted two new ‘International Members Reps’. Palash Kamruzzaman and Alex Masardo will be working with your existing committee and department contacts to ensure that the branch is as proactive and responsive as possible to the needs of our international members.

Branch Officers have had discussions with managers about the University’s response to the national political situation, and will continue to push for greater support for international staff. It was agreed at our last branch meeting that our negotiators on the JACNC would again ask that the University pay the cost of Permanent Residence Cards for staff. Information on support currently available from the University has been published online by Human Resources.

In addition to support from the Bath UCU branch, members can also seek counselling and support through the UCU-backed Education Support Partnership and there are also plans to extend the legal scheme available to UCU members to include immigration issues.

Take Action

Your branch committee is encouraging colleagues to use and circulate this online tool to demand that our Members of Parliament stand up for EU staff and students.

We also ask members to read and promote the booklet, jointly produced by UCU and Class, “Why immigration is good for all of us” and the South West TUC guide to population and migration. The branch has ordered hundreds of hardcopies of both publications to help members challenge the common toxic myths and divisive rhetoric around migration to the UK. If you would like copies for your department, or for distribution to students or colleagues, these can be reserved and collected from the Trade Union Office (1 East 2.1) on Wednesdays, 10:00-16:00.

If you have further suggestions for how the branch can best support our international colleagues, any general or specific concerns about the treatment of international staff members or an initiative that you would like the branch to support, please let us know.

Bath UCU Branch Committee

P.S. Bath UCU continues to support calls for the creation of university scholarships for refugees and is currently working with Bath Welcomes Refugees to provide donations and volunteer workers to the refugee camp in Calais. Two of our members will be talking more about this on Tuesday 18th October at 18:15, before a film screening of The White Helmets in 5 West 2.3.