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Migrant Rights are workers rights!

Leaflet distributed at the May Day demonstration in Belfast

1st May 2004

The Irish trade union movement leadership are right to flag up racism and sectarianism as issues for the workers movement on May Day.

In the South a massive attack on asylum seekers and migrant workers is summed up in a Government-sponsored amendment to the constitution.

In the North, unashamed public campaigns by organised loyalist groups target both ethnic minorities and Catholic workers..

Unfortunately flagging up the problem is as far as the trade union leadership ever gets.

In the North they join with government, bosses and liberal opinion in presenting racism and sectarianism as in some way part of a ‘Norn Iron’, ‘two communities’ culture.  The solution is that victims must sit and exchange views with their abusers. This led to the ludicrous situation where the most recent rally against racism sponsored by NICTU included some of the loyalist racists and had a banner from ‘Loyalists against racism’ draped behind the platform!

In the South ICTU ignore the fact that it is their ‘partners’ in government, with whom they have signed a formal alliance, who are leading the racist offensive.  Their contribution to the fightback is to cancel the May day march in Dublin!

Migrant rights are workers rights. Racism and sectarianism aren’t some sort of virus like the cold.  They are weapons deployed by Government and bosses to smash up the working class and restrict the rights of everyone. 

In the areas around Sandy Row and Donegal Pass today there are organisations publicly intimidating Catholics and ethnic minorities.  Other communities in East and North Belfast live in a state of siege.  What chance that NICTU will face up to the Loyalist groups and admit the reality of state collusion in sustaining bigots that in most societies would find themselves in jail?

The response to the bigots is the defence of workers rights – what we need today is an organisation of rank and file workers to proclaim and defend those rights!


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