Let’s recognise our shared humanity and welcome migrant workers and refugees

Helen Duddy
Helen Duddy

Women’s conference sent our thoughts to the 39 victims who died in the back of the lorry last week and stood in solidarity with the 37,000 other people who are forced to flee their homes every day because of violence and persecution.

Delegates backed an emergency motion condemning the immigration provisions that are “not fit for purpose” and pledging solidarity with refugee and migrant communities.

Moving the motion, Maria Feeney of Unite paid tribute to UNISON members Helen Duddy and Helen Anne Hawkins for their work in the Wishaw to Calais initiative which provided so much support to those trapped in Calais.

To applause she said, “No human should ever be considered illegal.”

Seconding the motion, Helen Duddy added UNISON’s thoughts and condolences to the families of the 39 people who tragically died in the back of the refrigerated lorry.

“It was an absolute tragedy,” she said, “The latest in a series of many such tragedies.

“Too many people who have tried to enter the UK for a better life are needing to put their lives at risk as the only way open to them.

“Too many families are having to grieve for a loved ones forced to make precarious journeys to escape war, oppression or poverty and for them and their families to feel safe.

“These are not people coming here for hand outs. They are people who want to work and to contribute to our society,” added Helen.

Helen called for a more welcoming approach to migrants and an immigration system that is fairer and more humane and that does not force people into the hands of people traffickers and unscrupulous gangs.

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Reports by UNISON Scotland Communications and Campaigns Committee from Kate Ramsden in Perth.