‘Migrant Workers With A Union to Back Them Can Move Mountains’
Hundreds of cleaners have forced world famous Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children to end outsourcing and instead make them permanent NHS staff. These cleaners, almost all of whom are migrant workers, balloted for strike action, but were in-housed before that action was necessary. Finnian Clarke from the Justice Gap reports on the latest victory in the battle against outsourcing.
The cleaners were employed by outsourcing giant OCS on a £10 million a year contract. At the outset of the pandemic, they joined the trade union United Voices of the World (UVW) in order to tackle what they saw as institutional racism that they experienced at Great Ormond Street in terms of inferior pay and conditions compared to in-housed NHS staff. For example, despite working at a hospital, cleaners were only given statutory sick pay of about £19 a day rather than the NHS’ full pay sick pay rates.
The workers unanimously voted in favour of strike action, and UVW also threatened legal action on the basis that the outsourcing policy indirectly discriminated on the grounds of race, and that the hospital had never undertaken an Equality Impact Assessment of their policy. After a 45-page document was presented to Great Ormond Street on the harms that the outsourcing policy was having, the Board announced that the workers would be in-housed in the coming months.
Read more: Finnian Clarke, Justice Gap, https://is.gd/ZuTkzO
Holding Back the Tide: the Courts and Climate Change
Last week a London coroner’s court made history, finding that air pollution was a direct cause in the death of a nine-year-old girl, Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah. Rather than treating it as an unfortunate addendum, as deaths brought about by pollution have previously been, it was listed as a factor in Ella’s death as crucial as her acute respiratory failure and severe asthma. This decision emphasises how the climate change debate has moved on, with the harm done to us and the planet by toxic emissions now indisputable. The evidence points one way alone. But decisions like this, welcome though they are, are not enough- they must be a precursor to more dramatic action from governments and international bodies.
Ella grew up in Lewisham, a London suburb, with her family’s house bordering on the South Circular Road, a major thoroughfare across south London. It was their proximity to this road that caused Ella’s death in 2013, with the air pollution constantly exceeding legal limits between 2006 and 2010, exacerbating her asthma and forcing her to hospital almost 30 times in the three years before she died. No one, especially those living in advanced nations with stringent regulatory standards, should be forced to hospital because of the environment they live in, yet this is what Ella faced, and what others continue to face. Elsewhere in London, Oxford Street continues to surge past its annual nitrogen dioxide limits in the first few months of each year, and in France, the EU is taking France to court once more for the dismal state of Paris’ air.
Read more: Nicholas Reed Langen, Justice Gap, https://is.gd/sUJlGW
Two People-Smugglers Found Guilty of Deaths of 39 Vietnamese Migrants
Two men have been found guilty of the manslaughter of 39 Vietnamese migrants found dead in a lorry trailer in Essex. The migrants suffocated in the sealed container en route from Zeebrugge to Purfleet in October 2019. Eamonn Harrison, 24, who dropped off the trailer at the Belgian port, and people-smuggler Gheorghe Nica, 43, were convicted by an Old Bailey jury. Two others were convicted of being part of a wider people-smuggling conspiracy.
The trial examined three smuggling attempts by the gang - two that were successful on 11 and 18 October, and the final trip on 23 October. Lorry driver Christopher Kennedy, 24, from County Armagh, collected the trailers from Purfleet on the earlier two runs, claiming he thought he was transporting cigarettes. But the jury found Kennedy and Valentin Calota, 38, of Birmingham, guilty of conspiring to assist illegal immigration. During the trial, jurors were given a snapshot of the victims - who included a bricklayer, a university graduate and a nailbar technician - and their dreams of a better life. Many of their families borrowed heavily to fund their passage, relying on their potential future earnings once they got into the UK.
Read more: BBC News, https://is.gd/5w8wFw
£10,125.49p Cost of Removing Each Person by Charter Flight Q3 2020
Number of males removed 221
Number of females removed 4
Number of escorts 715 (3 per deportee)
Number of flights in total 12
All the flights were to Euopean countries!
Actual spend on charter flights in July, August and September amounts to £2,278,236.44.
Data obtained through Freedom of Information request
We Are EachOther’, Our New Strategy for 2021 and Beyond
We believe human rights matter, and there is more that unites than divides us. As 2021 approaches though, our rights are under sustained attack. Powerful politicians plan to dismantle them, Brexit is set to erode them and popular newspapers have undermined them for years. The Black Lives Matter movement has shown how far we still have to go to make real the right to protection from discrimination in this country. Meanwhile, as Covid-19 ravages the nation’s health, lockdowns curtail our rights and freedoms in ways that demand scrutiny.
Against that backdrop, EachOther’s story-telling puts the human into human rights. We tell news stories that inform and personal stories that inspire and, in doing so, we build public understanding and support for human rights. We hope that more people will then speak up for our rights when they are threatened, putting pressure on politicians to do the same. By creating the conditions for more people to stand up for their rights, we can defend our human rights architecture whilst cultivating a culture of human rights in the UK. This, in turn, can open up the possibility of the UK acting as a beacon for human rights on the global stage.
Our theory of change recognises there is a spectrum of public opinion towards human rights in the UK. Nonetheless, rights protect everyone, so we strive to reach into every section of society. Our film-making and independent journalism generate a wide range of multimedia content on our website and social media channels to engage a host of different audiences. We empower those whose rights are endangered to tell their own inspirational stories. By amplifying their voices, we can help people connect across perceived divides.
Read more: EachOther, https://is.gd/oM56mE
Migrant Deaths This Year Top 3,000
In marking International Migrants Day, the United Nations says at least 3,174 migrants have died this year while seeking safety from persecution and violence or in hopes of bettering their impoverished lives. The International Organization for Migration says the number of recorded migrant deaths is likely to be highly underestimated. It says tens of thousands of people embark on dangerous journeys across deserts, jungles and seas. Many thousands do not survive but their deaths, it says, are not recorded.
The IOM says the overall number of global migrant deaths recorded this year is lower than in previous years. However, it notes fatalities have increased significantly on some of the migratory routes. For example, IOM spokesman Paul Dillon says at least 593 deaths have been documented in 2020 on route to Spain’s Canary Islands, compared to 45 fatalities in 2018. “An increase in migrants’ deaths was also recorded in South America compared to previous years, with at least 104 lives lost—most of them Venezuelan migrants—compared to fewer than 40 in all previous years," said Dillion. "This includes at least 23 people who drowned off the coast of Venezuela last weekend. Some 381 men, women and children also lost their lives on the U.S.-Mexican border.”
Read more, Lisa Schlein, Voa News, https://is.gd/wgljXa
Court Rules Home Office Wrong to Stop Asylum Seekers Working in UK
A trafficked woman who asked a judge for the right to work as a cleaner has won a landmark victory in the high court. The ruling on Friday 18th December 2020, paves the way for tens of thousands who are denied the right to work by the Home Office to have their requests to take up jobs considered. Asylum seekers and victims of trafficking are generally denied the right to work by the Home Office. Many wait several years for their cases to be determined. There is a record backlog of 60,548 people waiting for an initial decision on their asylum claim, with 76% of people waiting more than six months for a decision.
The trafficking victim, 35, was brought to the UK on 31 December 2017. After escaping from her traffickers and approaching the Home Office for protection the Home Office locked her up in an immigration detention centre and said there were no reasonable grounds that she was a victim of trafficking. In his ruling on Friday, Mr Justice Bourne considered the wider issues about the right to work for asylum seekers and victims of trafficking. He found that the lack of reference to discretion to grant permission to work in the Home Office guidance created a real risk that requests for work may not be properly considered. He said: “The limitation makes it much harder and in many cases impossible for an individual to obtain paid work. It may prevent them from working at all thereby exposing them to a risk of isolation and affecting their self-esteem.” Both asylum seekers and victims of trafficking have expressed frustration at being barred from working when they are fit and able to do so.
Read more: Diane Taylor, Guardian, https://is.gd/vrPJrw