UPDATE - over 70 Polish Migrant workers attended the launch meeting of the branch.
Given the racist hysteria recently in the press about migrant workers, it is good to see that the unions are responding in exctly the right way. During the otherwise unfortunate stewardship of Kevin Curran the GMB showed exemplary leadership in the Somerset town of Chard in organising both white british and Portuguse migrant workers at the Oscar Meyer factory, in the process undermining a racist campaign in the town.
There is a danger that empoloyers will use migrant workers to undermine wages and conditions, and it is the unions job to send a clear message that migrant workes are all welcome here; and we will not tolerate bosses employing them on worse terms and conditions. That can only be aceived in one way - shop floor organisation and directly recruiting migrant workers into our unions so that we can stand together.
The GMB has now passed an another importnat milestone and is launching its first trade union Branch dedicated to the needs of migrant workers in Southampton tonight. At present the Branch is mainly catering for Polish workers employed in the security industry in but will be extended to cover the estimated 30,000 polish workers in and around Southampton. The Branch will provide language training, job training and work placements.
According to Alan Frazer, GMB Organiser, “We have been representing migrant workers more and more in recent years. We have found that need different things from native workers and so this dedicated Branch will provide that service. GMB will be extending this initiative across the south east and nationally..
The GMB also organises Polish workers at The American Dry Cleaning Company in Colindale London; and in the East Midlands where two fulltime GMB Organisers (who are themselves migrant workers) recruit and organise migrant labour in horticulture, farming poultry and food processing.
The GMB has also negotiated and signed two national agreements in the off-shore industry with CAPE Industrial Services and AMEC which ensure that migrant workers, nearly all who are Polish are paid the national agreement rate for the job, have the correct training and skills levels and are not discriminated against over any element covered by the national agreement rates and terms.
The T&G is also making efforts to organise migrant workers - particularly in the agricultural sector.