Union branch motions defending free movement

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AWL Tube workers

Two RMT branches, Bakerloo Line and Finsbury Park, have recently passed this motion in defence of free movement, and calling for solidarity with refugees and migrants.

The motion also calls for RMT-backed MPs to vote against any Brexit deal that restricts immigration and attacks workers' rights.

The issue is contentious within the union, which was the most prominent labour-movement voice calling for a "leave" vote in the EU referendum.

The motion is slated for debate at the union's AGM in June.


This branch notes:

  • The increase in xenophobic and racist attacks since the Brexit vote, much of it targeting Eastern European migrants. [Sources: Home Office; NPCC; local police reports]
  • That several prominent Tories, and some Labour politicians, want to make reducing immigration a key plank of Britain's Brexit deal.
  • This branch believes:

  • Migrants and immigration are not to blame for stagnating wages and squeezed services. No serious study has found any evidence that immigration has a significantly depressing affect on wages.
  • If and when employers do use one group of workers to undercut another, our answer is strong workplace organisation and united struggle. We will not accept one group of workers being turned against another.
  • This branch further believes:

  • Migrant workers have always played a central role in our movement. Far from undercutting local workers' conditions, migrant workers' struggles have often meant that migrants help collectively improve pay, terms, and conditions.
  • We should support freedom of movement, not as a neoliberal policy but a fundamental human right. The wealth workers produce is free to travel uninhibited across borders; the workers who produce it should have the same freedom.
  • Controls cannot be placed on the flow and movement of people without violence and coercion. The deaths of migrants desperately attempting sea crossings, and the plight of those held in camps, is the result of too little freedom of movement, not too much. The EU's existing freedom of movement laws are exclusionary, but the freedoms should be extended, not restricted.
  • Advocating increased border controls to prevent undercutting of local workers' conditions makes no more sense than internal migration controls to prevent the migration of workers from the north to southern England, or from Wales to England.
  • This branch resolves:

  • To campaign against increased border controls being part of the Brexit deal.
  • To support campaigns for migrants' and refugees rights.
  • To encourage our Parliamentary Group MPs to vote against any Brexit deal which restricts immigration and attacks workers' rights.