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Stop the YMCA slave labour scheme now!

No-one is a slave! | 18.05.2005 20:20 | Anti-racism | Migration | Social Struggles | Birmingham | Liverpool

Liverpool YMCA is going to be the first voluntary sector agency to collude with the Home Office in the immigration slavery scheme introduced by section 10 of the 2004 legislation.

No One Is Illegal has sent the following letter. We would ask other individuals and organisations to do the same in their name. Also there is a consultation meeting with the YMCA and the Home Office about this on 24th May - 12.40 - 2.40 at Millenium House in Liverpool.

Finally we would ask everyone to come to the No One Is Illegal conference on Saturday June 25th, 1pm - 6pm, at Cross St Chapel in Manchester where we can discuss a national (or even international) day of action against the YMCA.

No One Is Illegal c/o 16 WOOD ST, BOLTON, LANCS BLI IDU


(1) Richard Capie Public Affairs Manager YMCA

(2) The Right Reverend Dr. John Tucker Mugabi Sentamu National President of YMCA

(3) Jeff Calvert Chief Executive Liverpool YMCA


Section 10 of Asylum and Immigration Act 2004 making hard case support under section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act conditional on performance of involuntary community work.

We have written to you previously (without reply) voicing our concern over the YMCAs involvement in what can only be called an immigration slavery scheme. We are still appalled by your agreement to allow Liverpool YMCA to pilot the scheme. Your statement of May 5th does nothing to reassure us. We would like to make the following points and raise the following questions. We await your response

(1) Historically all slave-owners and masters ultimately seek to justify their role in showing that servitude somehow helps the slave. This was the position of, for example, the cotton growers of the Southern states of America at the time of the civil war slavery being portrayed as a way that black plantation workers could be educated and their welfare met. Your statement of May 5th likewise portrays section 10 as initiating a scheme that can be benevolent and helpful to asylum-seekers

(2) In whatever way it is sanitised section 10 does construct a system of slavery for those asylum seekers subject to it because they will be denied all support unless they agree to undertake community services.

(3) Section 10 has been condemned by the Joint Committee on Human Rights of the House of Lords/House of Commons in its Fourteenth Report of Session 2003-04. In essence the criticism is one of slave labour. In particular the report attacks the section as being in breach of Article 4(2) of the European Convention of Human Rights (prohibition of forced labour), of Article 3 (prohibition on inhuman or degrading treatment) and of Article 14 (no discrimination on grounds of nationality).

(4) You say that under the proposed pilot scheme No individual will be required to carry out any specific activity against their will. This is somewhat ingenuous as an asylum seeker within the scheme who refuses to carry out all proposed activities will automatically lose all support. This is clear from clause 4 of the Immigration and Asylum (Provision of Accommodation to Failed Asylum-Seekers) Regulations 2005

(5) What trade unions have you consulted as to the employment of wageless labour?

(6) We note that you say that section 4 asylum-seekers should be allowed to enter into paid employment and that you will continue to be outspoken on this and on other matters appertaining to refugees. We agree section 4 asylum-seekers should have the right to paid work and in fact think all asylum seekers should have this right. However we are concerned that there appears to be a deliberate omission from the issues on which you are prepared to be outspoken. This is the restoration of the right to all benefits and services for asylum-seekers. In other words no benefit or service should be linked to immigration status. This would also ensure the end of the forced dispersal scheme which itself could correctly be described as being analogous to servitude.

(7) The first sentence of your statement of May 5th justifying the pilot scheme says YMCA England is the preferred provider to deliver such a scheme.

What does this mean? It is the language of corporate bodies seeking tenders rather than an organisation fighting for the rights of asylum seekers.

(8) Your entering into this scheme undermines the whole concept of voluntary work. Voluntary work by its very name suggests the freely giving of services. The present scheme is based on the compulsory giving of labour (just like dispersal is the compulsory movement of human beings).

(9) You say and present as something positive that the YMCA is also already working with a large number of failed asylum seekers through a contract with NASS to provide accommodation to around 150 section 4 recipients. We do not necessarily consider this of benefit to refugees. For instance how many section 4 recipients have you evicted on withdrawal of section 4 support? It is clear that if the voluntary sector (along with the private sector and local authorities) had refused to become involved with the dispersal scheme then the latter could not have been implemented.

(10) This leads to the basic issue of principle at stake here. Our position is that immigration controls cannot be sanitised, cannot be rendered just, cannot be made fair. All involvement on this basis only results in collusion and in the present case in immigration slavery.

We hope you will reconsider your position


No One Is Illegal

No-one is a slave!


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  1. its fun to stay at the ymca... — ymca