Unite warns against scapegoating of migrants during any subsequent economic crisis
April 23rd: Trade union Unite, which represents workers in all sectors throughout the island of Ireland, has highlighted the contribution by migrant workers in healthcare and other frontline services to the fight against Covid-19. Following a meeting, the union’s Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority Committee today (Thursday) issued a statement calling for solidarity with migrant workers and their families now and after the pandemic.
Committee chair Memet Uludağ said:
“Racist myths are crumbling as it becomes apparent that our health services are sustained by a diverse workforce instead of – as some would have us believe – being drained by migrants. The solidarity shown by those standing each week on their doorsteps to applaud frontline workers must continue beyond the current emergency. It is not migrant workers but governments’ socio-economic policies which drive down workers’ wages, terms and conditions.
Looking beyond the pandemic, Mr Uludag added: “While the Covid-19 emergency has highlighted the contribution made by migrant workers to the essential services that keep our society functioning, we have to ensure that those same workers do not pay the price for the economic crisis which may follow this pandemic. In times of crisis, those looking for a scapegoat often repeat the myth that migrants are to blame for problems such as lower wages, lack of housing or hospital capacity and worsening terms and conditions.
“Migrant workers all over the world have contributed their diverse skillset to building major industries and they will be central to our economic and social recovery following the pandemic”.
BAEM committee member Muhammad Al-Hussaini added:
“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the lives and livelihoods of workers, families and communities throughout Ireland, Britain and beyond has highlighted the non-discriminatory way that such communicable disease touches upon people of all ethnicities and nationalities, genders, ages and other personal characteristics. It has also focused attention on the vital role that migrant workers play in sustaining our health and social care services, retail, transport and other sectors. It is imperative that the community’s reliance on migrant workers during this emergency is recognised and remembered once the event has passed.
“Too often immigrants have been used to fill critical post-war labour shortages, only to subsequently be rejected and subjected to appalling racial and religious discrimination and hate”, Mr A Hussaini concluded.