24 May 2022

PCS leading resistance against border policy disaster

Once more PCS and our allies are leading the resistance to this government’s moral and inhumane border policy disaster, human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti told our national conference.

Baroness Chakrabarti was full of praise for our union’s “amazing work” in fighting government plans to turn back refugee boats in the Channel and to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda.

“It is work not just on behalf of your members, but on behalf of all decent law-abiding people in our nations, and especially in defence of the most desperate refugees,” she said.

“I am so proud to stand with PCS, who have been protecting their members; including in the Home Office and Border Force, from both catastrophic job and resource cuts and the mental health and moral harms that come from being sent out to administer lawless and inhumane border policy – aimed more at securing cheap headlines than keeping anyone safe or free.”

She praised public servants who do not come to work to be de-valued, bullied and scapegoated by ministers.

Grim anniversary

This week is the 10th anniversary of the government's hostile environment which the former director of Liberty called a “grim anniversary” which directly caused the Windrush Scandal.

“We know that these policies of austerity and hostility work together to achieve one result: division and oppression,” she said.

The Labour peer said that PCS reminded her of how trades unions can work in wider partnership and lead coalitions of action with grassroots campaigns at home and internationally.” 

She described the Rwandan policy as “nothing short of an exercise in state-sponsored people trafficking that even involves the transfer of large sums of taxpayers’ cash. It’s hardly surprising that the Archbishop of Canterbury has called it ‘ungodly’.”

The former shadow attorney general for England and Wales had a strong message for the government: “Your lawless and inhumane policies are not being thwarted by activist lawyers any more than they are being perpetrated by the government lawyers unfortunate enough to be working for you.

You are being called to account by ordinary working people who care about common humanity and the rule of law.”

But she warned that we should “brace ourselves for the wider assault and very much more brutish and entitled lawlessness to come”.

“Just as Donald Trump sought to undermine democratic dissent, institutions and elections, we are looking at a barrage of anti-protest provisions, attacks on trade unions, broadcasters and even the Electoral Commission,” she said. “We are promised a bill to scrap the very Human Rights Act that has allowed the government to be held accountable in court.”

In the face of many attacks and crises, whether of health and wealth inequality, or conflict or climate catastrophe at home and abroad from the government, the former Home Office lawyer said that the answer is “more common decency, not less.”

She concluded her speech by praising our union’s demonstration of 21st century solidarity in action “in the workplace, on the streets and in the courtroom.”