Decent housing for asylum seekers! Decent housing for all!

jomast

Jomast hear us say! Over-crowding no way! Bedbugs, broken cookers, leaking ceilings, black mould – enough is enough!

Protesters picketed Jomast’s Middlesbrough offices on Monday 5 March, rallying against the luxury property developer’s sub-standard accommodation provisions for asylum seekers.

Tyneside based Migration Asylum Justice Forum, supported by Fight Racism Fight Imperialism North East, coordinated with South Yorkshire Migration Asylum Action Group and North East Coalition for Asylum and Refugee Rights to demand improvements for asylum accommodation calling for an end to forced bedroom sharing which sees unrelated strangers forced to share bedrooms.

Jomast is subcontracted by G4S who hold the contract for asylum accommodation in the North. We forced their office to shut shop for the day. Management scarpered, leaving a couple of admin staff who locked the doors, drew the blinds and refused to accept any letters from us. Jomast own much of the office and housing blocks surrounding their office, meaning that asylum families living in the overcrowded Jomast flats above the office came down to join the protest and speak out about their unscrupulous landlord. They spoke of having their water cut off, broken washing machines, cracks and holes in the walls, with mothers and several children having to sleep in the same room, sharing their tiny flats with other families leaving them with no space or privacy.

Several Jomast residents who are forced to share bedrooms also took to the mic to speak out, demanding privacy and respect.

There has been widespread outcry over conditions in asylum housing, leading Newcastle city council to pass a policy against bedroom sharing for asylum seeker adults in March 2017. The Migration Asylum Justice Forum then pressured the council to conduct inspections of properties where bedroom sharing was taking place. As a result, Newcastle city council’s Environmental Health department issued several notices under section 139 of the Housing Act 2004 stating they considered the houses over-occupied.

Despite this, Jomast continue to force asylum seeker residents into shared bedrooms, many in quite heated situations where Jomast call the police if residents demand that the local council policy was respected. Now Jomast and G4S have appealed the council's section 139 notices so it will go to the first-tier tribunal property chamber on 23 March. If Newcastle council win the case this could be a step towards banning forced bedroom sharing across the region, following in the footsteps of Sheffield council who successfully ended forced bedroom sharing in 2017.

In the meantime, dozens of asylum seekers have been in touch with our campaign, distressed and upset with their treatment as Jomast have forced new residents in to houses that are already full:

‘Jomast want me to go crazy in here, I have no privacy, I have to share my space with another man who I don’t know, who doesn’t speak my language, doesn’t speak English, we can’t communicate - he is just as stressed as me!’

‘It is so hard sharing with so many people in the house, the others I share with, sometimes they smoke in my bedroom – and I have asthma! So many men all together – with different cultures and customs – the house is a mess, Jomast are supposed to provide cleaning materials but they never come to fix anything, they never come to clean – we are eight people in four bedrooms – no space’

All this is happening at the same time as the government and the Home Affairs Select Committee are locked in a dispute over asylum accommodation and the contracts for the next 10 years are up for grabs. Meanwhile in Middlesbrough, Jomast have just built a new Premier Inn and cite upmarket developments in Queen’s Square, Bedford street and Albert road as glittering jewels in their multi-million-pound property development projects. Our protest attracted the attention of local press with those directly affected speaking to TV, Radio and newspapers1.

Housing should be a right not a commodity – Jomast and G4S are only interested in asylum accommodation as part of a desperate scramble for lucrative government contracts. Like slum landlords, profit driven housing associations and local councils selling off estates, profit is their bottom dollar. The fight for decent homes for asylum seekers is part of the fight for decent homes for all – unity is strength – together we are stronger!

We are now preparing for the tribunal court hearing on 23 March. We will be gathering outside to protest and highlight the issue – for more information follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/migrationandjustice/

1. Crowded and poorly maintained homes cost us 'basic human rights' say protesting asylum seekers. GazetteLive, 5 March 2018.

Asylum seeker's life on Teesside - 'I thought it would be heaven but now I'm scared'. GazetteLive, 6 March 2018.

 

Black Freedom March: Statement by the organisers – Asian Youth Movement Bradford

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no.3 March/April 1980

FRFI Editorial Statement - Black Freedom March

The Asian Youth Movement Bradford has taken a major initiative in calling the Black Freedom March from Bradford to London, in June and July this year. We print their statement in full in this issue [below]. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! pledges its full and unconditional support to this march. We urge all our readers and supporters to do likewise. This march is an extremely important step in the fight against racism in Britain.

 

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Hornsey Police attack again

police brutality

The racist thugs of Holloway Police Station have beaten up yet another black youth. Their latest victim, Junior Archer, like the Earlington family, has decided to fight the case. He has asked the Earlington Family Defence Committee to take it up.

Junior Archer is 18, he lives in Hornsey. On Thursday evening (6 March) he went out to a club. On his way home in the early hours of Friday morning he was stopped on Tollington Way by four police. There were two other people with Junior but he was caught first, and surrounded. He stood there, he didn't move, he didn't push to get free, he didn't say anything. Immediately, seven other police arrived in a van. The brutality started right away when the police tried to get information out of Junior about the people with him.

 

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Black Peoples' Day of Action - Black workers on the march

On the Black Peoples Day of Action, Central London witnessed a clear display of the hatred and anger felt by black working class people for the 'National Front in police uniform', the racist organisations and the imperialist institutions they defend. It was the most significant sign of the revolutionary militancy of the black working class for many years. Black people showed once again that they would not be the victims of racism, but the revolutionary fighters against their racist oppressors.

Organised by the New Cross Massacre Action Committee the march was a militant response to the lies and distortions of the press, the inactivity of the police, the total indifference of Parliament and local Labour MP, John Silkin, to the massacre of 13 black children by fascist murderers.

15,000 people joined the march and their placards and slogans made their feelings clear: New Cross Massacre Cover Up; Forward to Freedom, Babylon will fall; No stopping us now we are on the move; No Rights, No Obligations.

 

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Oldham — 'Minister of Deportations'

Timothy Raison, Secretary of State for Home Affairs, was met by a hundred-strong picket when he visited Oldham. Oldham's black community turned up in force chanting 'Death to Racism! Fight All Racist Attacks! Self-Defence the Only Way!' and 'Immigration Controls Out!'.

Black people in Oldham live under a regime of police/racist terror. The mosque windows in Oldham are regularly broken and racist slogans painted up in the area, black people are beaten up by gangs of white youths. There have been numerous deportations.

 

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Holloway fightback

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no 9 - March/April 1981

Police repression in Holloway has continued without mercy since the arrests of 20 local youths at the end of December. At the time a Homsey Road police thug said, 'We want the blacks off the streets for Christmas'.

Not content with harassment of black people on the streets and in their homes, at the courts and in the prisons, the police have now carried their attacks into the schools. Readers can see from the letter printed on this page what happened on Monday 16 February at a North London school. The youth arrested were actually grabbed and beaten up in the school building itself.

The letter which FRFI is pleased to publish was given to our supporters, who have been working regularly in the area, by youths from the school. We are impressed by the solidarity and determination of these youth to organise against police tyranny. They do not see why such actions should be carried out and kept secret from parents and the community as a whole. The school authorities know, the teachers know, so let the world know what can happen to black and working class youths in a London school. That is the message from 150 pupils.

 

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Free the St Pauls 9

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no 9 - March/April 1981

Three of the St Pauls 12 have been acquitted. In these three cases even the frame-up tactics of the British police and courts could not be made to stick. In the case of one of the acquitted defendants, the Judge was forced to admit that his name had not even been mentioned in the course of police 'evidence'.

The remaining nine face the serious charge of 'joining in common cause to riot' which carries a heavy prison sentence. Of all the hundreds who rose up against police harassment, the state has chosen these nine to act as an example to all those who dare to rebel.

 

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New Cross massacre: Police, press and Parliament cover up

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no 9 - March/April 1981

On 18 January 1981 a fire deliberately started at a birthday party at 439 New Cross Road, South London, resulted in the cold blooded murder of 13 black children. Mrs Amza Ruddock, who held the birthday party for her 16 year old daughter, Yvonne, lost two children — Yvonne and Paul. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! extends its deepest sympathy and solidarity to the relatives and friends of the dead and injured. Those who died are Lillian Henry (16) Lloyd Hall (20) Patricia Johnstone (15) Jerry Francis (16) Steve Collins (17) Andrew Gooding (14) Humphrey Brown (18) Peter Campbell (18) Patrick Cummings (16) Owen Thompson (16) Glen Powell (16) Yvonne Ruddock (16) and Paul Ruddock (22). 29 other children were injured, some very severely.

There is a long history of racist and fascist attacks on black people in South London. Within one mile radius of 439 New Cross Road, 4 places have been burned down in the last few years, and shortly before the massacre black people's cars in the area were burnt out by racists. Black people are therefore rightly convinced that the New Cross Massacre was another such murderous and deadly attack. Obscene letters have been received by relatives of the dead and injured gloating over the attack and stating that this is the first of many. One of the letters, received by Mrs Haynes, mother of one of the injured stated 'What a great day it was last Sunday when I heard about the fire and all those niggers going up in flames ...' The response of the black community to the massacre has therefore been a massive anger, shown by meetings of up to 1000 people.

 

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Racism, poverty and cuts

britains racist imigration laws

Two significant reports on race equality were published in October 2017: the government's first release of data from a Race Disparity Audit, which combines data from a wide range of central government departments; and the Runnymede Trust's Intersecting Inequalities: The impact of austerity on Black and Minority Ethnic women in the UK. TOM VICKERS reports.

 

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British immigration controls after Brexit

eu migrants

At the start of September a Home Office document containing proposals for immigration policy following Brexit was leaked. Hiding behind apparent public concern about unrestricted migration, the document sets out a plan for greater control.

The hostility of large sections of the British population to migrants has been actively promoted by the ruling class; yet it also creates problems for them. Key sectors of the economy rely on low-waged migrant labour, but anti-migrant hostility has been used by the ruling class to justify restrictions on migrants’ rights; this in turn enables more intense exploitation and undermines resistance to austerity and wage cuts. Brexit has brought these contradictions to a head.

The report attempts to manage these contradictions by striking ‘the right balance between the economic growth that immigration can generate and its social impacts’, and ‘a balance between economic growth and immigration control by ensuring that economic migrants really are the brightest and best, and that family migrants are capable of integrating’. The government is seeking to make the most of Brexit to further restrict the rights of working class migrants, increase lab­our discipline and further fine-tune immigration to the needs of capital. As the report states: ‘It is not a question of stopping EU migration. Rather, it is a question of ending the position where we are unable to exercise controls, because free movement rights can be exercised at the discretion of the migrant.’

 

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Exploited workers, racist rhetoric: immigration does not cut wages

fight racism4

Political comment by the Editorial Board of FRFI on the review of the report Brexit and the impact of immigration on the UK

The Editorial Board of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! feels it necessary to draw out an important political point that the article below does not make explicit. Racism is the form that national oppression takes in an imperialist nation. That is why the RCG opposes all British immigration controls. It has always been our position that in an imperialist country, immigration restrictions must necessarily be racist. This applies both to claims for asylum and to the ‘management’ of ‘economic migration’. The RCG does not accept the political framework of the report reviewed below. Such studies often disagree with one another, because so many factors influence outcomes at particular times, in particular sectors, and for particular grades of workers. But communists have a fundamentally different starting point: we do not ask whether the existence of one group of workers is good or bad for another group of workers, but how we can defend the interests of the working class as a whole. The article below has utilised the framework of the report in order to show that immigration does not undercut the wages of the British-born working class. This is insufficient: whatever the conclusion of this study, it does not affect the essential communist standpoint on racism and immigration.

 

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Corbyn and co fall in line with the racist status quo

corbyn and co

Throughout the election campaign the immigration policy of the Labour Party has been dictated by the need to square the demands of British capitalism for migrant labour with appeals to racist sections of the electorate who would prefer migrants were excluded from Britain completely.

The final version of the Labour manifesto included a ‘tougher’ approach to immigration, with the addition of a pledge to ‘control’ immigration and a statement that action is needed to prevent migrant workers undercutting the wages of British citizens. There is little evidence that migration actually reduces wages of British workers.

 

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No vote for racists

britains racist imigration laws

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 257 May/June 2017 Election Special

[The] figures prove that last year we deported someone every eight minutes – and we got our priorities straight.’ – Liam Byrne, Labour Immigration Minister, 2008

When last in government, between 1997 and 2010, Labour:

• Passed six repressive immigration acts;

• Introduced a Points Based System for non-EU migrants, with differential rights that privileged largely white migrants from other imperialist countries;

• Exploited migrant labour from Eastern Europe, placing restrictions on access to benefits and on where migrants could work;

• Created a forced dispersal system for asylum seekers, often housing them in appalling conditions, removing their right to work and placing them on a separate welfare system with poverty level benefits;

• Expanded immigration detention to over 3,000 places;

• Deported tens of thousands of people, many to war zones that were the direct result of British interventions, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

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RCG joins day of action against detention centres and deportations

IMG 20170513 WA0008

On 13 May, the RCG across Britain supported a day of action against the racist imprisonment and deportation of migrants. Supporters from London and Nottingham along with Focus E15 campaigners joined the demonstration organised by Movement for Justice outside Yarl's Wood Immigration Detention Centre in Bedford, where over 90% of the detainees are women. Meanwhile local demonstrations were organised by RCG branches in Manchester and Newcastle. The day of action against Britain's racist system of laws targeting refugees and other migrants also highlighted the fact that neither Jeremy Corbyn or any other Labour politician is fighting for their rights – promising hundreds of more border guards instead. We salute the women leading the fight on the inside of Britain's immigration prisons and call for building the anti-racist movement on the streets.

Over 500 people were present at the height of the Yarl's Wood demonstration with banners, placards and whistles and horns, shouting and chanting and waving so that the detainees could see us. The women prisoners waved and shouted out of slightly opened windows and some had flags and written messages. Moving speeches were made by former detainees who spoke of the inhumane conditions, the struggle that included hunger strikes to stop the detention of children, on violence and sexual harrassment. These speakers make it clear to the detainees that we will not give up the struggle on the outside and their words were very powerful. The organisers managed to let the crowd hear a detainee on the phone; she demanded her immediate freedom and expressed the horror of her incarceration. Movement for Justice speakers emphasised the racist environment whipped up by Brexit.

 

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Asylum seekers protest against shameful Jomast housing conditions in Tyneside

Two to a room, bedbugs, broken cookers, leaking roofs ... these are all common problems facing Jomast tenants across Tyneside. Under the Home Office Compass contracts, the self-titled ‘urban regeneration specialists’ are subcontracted by notorious security company G4S to house asylum seekers. In sharp contrast to these squalid conditions, Jomast director Stuart Monk has bagged personal wealth of around £175m and is one of the richest men in the north east.

On 23 March FRFI supporters joined the Migration and Asylum Justice Forum (MAJF) to protest at Jomast’s offices, situated in their luxury urban living and leisure development ‘Jesmond three sixty’, where plush two-bedroom apartments are let for £1,275 a month.

 

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British state racism ‘the hostile environment’

britains racist imigration laws

The first months of 2017 have seen an intensification of the ‘hostile environment’ for migrants in Britain, as new measures are passed and previously announced policies take effect. From April new immigration checks will be introduced in hospitals, part of the package of measures introduced following the 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts. Checks also now operate in areas of everyday life, including private rented housing, employment, banking, and traffic enforcement. A further Immigration Bill is planned later this year. Refugees and migrants are under attack and there is an urgent need to organise and resist. Tom Vickers reports.

Children and families under attack

In February, Ministers capped the number of child refugees to be accepted under the ‘Dubs amendment’ at 350, and introduced a new rule that only those who arrived in Europe before 20 March 2016 would qualify for one of the remaining 150 places. The open racism of the Conservative government has reached the point at which even a tiny number of children are seen as a threat.

 

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