Trade Union leaders back the Let Them Work campaign - Refugee Council
September 10, 2008

Trade Union leaders back the Let Them Work campaign

By Jonathan, Campaigns and Public Affairs Team

A major coup for the Refugee Council’s Let Them Work campaign today at the TUC Congress!

It was an early start, but by 09:30 eighteen top trade union leaders had signed a pledge calling on the government to allow asylum seekers to work.  The campaign was greeted with enthusiasm and good cheer despite the strong likelihood that most of the signatories would have endured a series of late nights, including a dinner with the Prime Minister the night before.  They were wide awake though when they signed the pledge at a private meeting of union chiefs.

Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary said:

“Asylum seekers can wait months and even years before decisions are made on their cases, so the bar on them working is causing severe economic hardship for their families.  The Government must think again and change the rules so that asylum seekers are allowed to work and no longer forced to survive on benefits alone.”

Meanwhile, outside the Brighton Centre where the Congress is taking place, a bunch of enthusiastic volunteers from local refugee support group Brighton Voices in Exile, made sure that every delegate arriving for the morning’s debates was invited to a campaign reception hosted by the TUC’s General Secretary, Brendan Barber, and Refugee Council Chief Executive, Donna Covey.  We are hoping for a big turnout – the Middle Eastern and African food should be a big draw! 

And before that event, we will be joined by a group of Zimbabwean refugees who are active trade unionists in their home country.  They will arrive just in time to see the debate on motion calling on the TUC to campaign for asylum seekers to be able to work – hopefully it will be passed!

It has been a busy day – but so far a huge boost for the Let Them Work campaign!