Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/630/9871
Refugee and Migrant Justice: Save this vital service!
Refugee and Migrant Justice (RMJ) has 11 offices nationally providing legal advice and representation to those seeking asylum in the UK.
Eric Segal, Unite rep, RMJ
The 340 staff were told on 16 June that we are to lose our jobs on 23 June. So we held a magnificent demonstration outside the Ministry of Justice on 18 June. A PCS rep from the Ministry of Justice, Austin Harney, came out to give solidarity with the RMJ workers. He said he 'stood shoulder to shoulder' with us and called for a joint campaign against cuts from the Con-Dem government.
We are proud to be trade unionists standing shoulder to shoulder with other workers.
As trade unionists we have more in common with workers in Greece and Spain fighting against public sector cuts than we have with the likes of those fat cat lawyers trying to break BA workers in struggle.
We are amongst the most determined and committed defenders of the rights of those seeking asylum in the UK. We are being forced into administration by the Legal Services Commission, who are the legal aid funders of the government, because we are good at our job.
Over the past years, our union has warned management that the new system of payment for our work, the Graduated Fee scheme, was unsustainable. Our employers told us that if we opened and closed more cases then we would win through.
These are the same arguments that industrial workers face when conveyor belts are speeded up leading to increased stress, sickness and a high turnover of staff.
There are rumours of last minute bailouts but what do these mean in practice? One office has been offered a possible department in a private solicitors but with conditions attached, including dramatic cuts in terms and conditions, redundancy money to be put into the venture, liability if the venture fails and a 15% cut in pay.
What service will we be told to stop providing to make the Legal Service Commission's job easier? Will it be cuts in the work we do for children or cuts in defending torture victims?
How much will our pay be cut and how long will our working day be extended to make the system work?
Our union members in the RMJ have shown that we have the determination and will to fight on behalf of our clients.
We will show our employers and this Con-Dem coalition that we have that same will and determination to defend our organisation and our jobs.
In The Socialist 23 June 2010:
Youth fight for jobs
National Shop Stewards Network
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis