Fighting racism in Newcastle

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Far from being a city of sanctuary as the Newcastle Labour council likes to claim, it is a city where

  • immigration raids regularly take place in predominantly migrant-owned businesses, targeting migrant workers with irregular immigration status;

  • asylum seekers frequently have their front doors kicked in during the early hours of the morning to be bundled into immigration vans and then imprisoned or deported;

  • the same asylum seekers are forced to live in privatised, severely overcrowded housing, with leaking ceilings, broken boilers and cookers and bed bug infestation, and are often tagged and put on curfew by the Home Office.

However, this repression has bred resistance, and migrants, asylum seekers and other working class people in Newcastle have joined forces to fight back. They face not just state racism, but the forces of the opportunist left, which in the guise of the SWP censors the views of migrants and seeks to restrict the fight against racism to a shouting match with the EDL.

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Residents call out Newcastle Labour council’s fire safety lies

YHN

Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) - the Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) that runs Newcastle council’s housing stock - have been caught lying by their residents. Following the Grenfell fire, YHN issued letters to tower block residents claiming that they have smoke detectors installed in the communal areas of their blocks and self-opening windows at the top of every stairwell. In many instances, residents have neither of these things. The letters also claimed that children have not been housed in tower blocks 'since the turn of the century'. This prompted young mothers and other angry residents to take action, demanding YHN retroactively fit sprinklers in all of their blocks and address other fire safety concerns, which include badly fitted fire doors, bin chutes and sufficient evacuation procedures for young families, disabled and elderly residents.

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Newcastle speaks out: safe and decent housing for all!

newcastle speakout

On Saturday 24 June, the North East branch of the Revolutionary Communist Group hosted a successful speak out in Newcastle city centre to demand housing that is habitable, safe and affordable for working class people.

Our demands were for ending forced room sharing in migrant housing, for more housing at social rent in Newcastle, and for an end to the racist ‘right to rent’ scheme, which discriminates against black and migrant people seeking to rent accommodation. We were joined by local housing campaigners who live in Your Homes Newcastle accommodation, a property management service which administers council housing.

Despite rules introduced in 2007 that stated that all tower blocks had to have sprinklers, residents of YHN are still awaiting their installation in their homes. They have also raised concerns about fire doors that are unfit for use, and the lack of transparency on what materials were used to clad and insulate their property. These tenants have raised their concerns before, but on every occasion have been ignored by both YHN and the local Labour council. A Facebook group to facilitate tenants’ campaigns can be found here. A petition demanding the installation of fire sprinkler systems can be signed here

The RCG's open-mic was incredibly popular, with local people taking the opportunity to share their experiences of substandard housing in Newcastle, the discrimination against migrants, disabled people and the working class within housing allocation and the housing market, and the need for organisation and direct action to ensure rights to decent housing. In a city with a Labour majority council (which has ruthlessly imposed austerity) and a clear slate of Labour MPs, it was painfully obvious to everyone that relying on any capitalist party to sort out the housing crisis is an exercise in futility. It was shown again and again on the microphone that the housing crisis is a symptom of the capitalist crisis, as the bourgeoisie attempt to make up for their shrinking profits by squeezing more and more rent from tenants for increasingly poor and unsafe housing. As such, only the working class as an organised force fighting to end capitalism can stand any chance of solving the housing crisis.

Videos from the speak-out can be seen here and here.

North East Events coming up..

We have street actions and political educational meetings in Newcastle every week – for details call 07858346276 or email frfinortheast@gmail.com

For more information on events in the North East you can also join the FRFI North East e-mail list and the mailing lists of campaigns we are involved in on the following pages:

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! North East:
https://lists.riseup.net/www/subscribe/frfinortheast

Tyneside Community Action Against Racism:
https://lists.riseup.net/www/subscribe/tcar

Palestine Action Group:
https://lists.riseup.net/www/subscribe/palestineactiongroup

Viva Cuba! Rock Around The Blockade:
https://lists.riseup.net/www/subscribe/ratbnortheast

or add us on Facebook.com/FRFInortheast

Contact North East FRFI

078 5834 6276
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