Liverpool Solidarity Federation is supporting the national campaign #OneDayWithoutUs, hosting a rally against criminalisation of migrant workers on Monday February 20th, at 6 PM at The Lyceum, 1 Bold Street, L1 4NW.

In the UK, as in many other so-called developed countries, there is a high rate of inequality. While bosses, landlords and politicians are getting richer and stronger, we are facing low wages, zero-hour contracts, agency work, redundancies and abuses from our bosses. Our houses are expensive and poorly built. The massive cuts in public services and the reductions in the new benefits system has left us unprotected and helpless.

For those of us at the very bottom of the scale, this unfair distribution does not only occur in terms of wealth. With it comes a lack of time, energy, power and even hope. This is happening because some people have lost the healthy habit of sticking together and fighting back at work and within their neighbourhoods.

Even though those in power -or seeking power- try to manipulate us with fake pay rises and weak promises, we know these are just tricks to get more from us, to squeeze us even more. It does not matter if they call it recovery, restructuring or crisis, because it is always us, the working class, who has to make the effort – work a little more, have a bit less.

In response to this situation, migrants have been criminalised. In recent years migration and its impact has dominated the public debate in the UK. Migrants are presented as a risk for the economy, security and culture. This is neither new nor original. In history we have plenty of examples of this same “blame the stranger” reaction. When things are unstable the tendency is to create an enemy, to give an excuse that will justify antisocial policies.

So now political discussion in the main parties is about how necessary it will be to close the borders. For those parties migrants are just another part of their electoral propaganda. With all the flashing lights it is easy to think that this all started with Brexit and the sharp tongues of some racist politicians. But the truth is that they only said out loud what was already being enacted through anti-migrant policies, UKBA raids and ongoing negotiations to reduce migrants rights. Needless to say that the EU is a fortress in its own way.

However, nobody really wants to get rid of migrants. What they really want is to gain control. Control to create a cheap workforce composed of vulnerable and scared people. Some executives thought that the best way to get cheap workers would be remaining in the EU, because that gave them access to a workforce of second-class EU citizens with less rights and restrictions on access to public services. Whereas others thought that they would be better off leaving, thinking that it would mean less regulations on welfare and workers rights. Now, the Government is using migrants as a bargaining chip in its negotiations on the single market. And again the relationship with the EU is only part of the problem and any migrant living or expecting to live in the UK is being targeted.

After all, migrants are only the start. To accept the reduction of our rights as migrants only makes it easier to withdraw rights from the working class in general. All of them are trying to pit workers against each other. Diversity and freedom of movement can not be blamed for the disruptive effect of conservative and austerity politics. What is ruining our lives and destroying our communities is an individualistic society based on wild consumerism. By dividing the working class into nationalities, migrants, european, non-european… those in power try to stop us uniting and fighting back.

Because the truth is that migrant workers are not waiting for any handouts. They are busy fighting for Living wage, for better working conditions and union recognition. The mainstream media won’t tell you this but try to google out about successful strikes of cleaners at some universities in London, Topshop or John Lewis’s, workers at Harrod’s or riders at Deliveroo in London, Bristol and Brighton. In October drivers took Uber to court that had to acknowledge that self-employed workers in the gig economy deserve the same rights as other workers. In Toxteth, both native and migrant parents were fighting against closures of the children centres three years ago and united we won!

Victories of the migrant workers are victories for everyone, including YOU. We don’t need your sympathy but your direct support (crowdfunding for the strikes, manning the pickets, protesting against victimization, etc.). But in order to be able to fight, we need to be free from legal persecution and threats of deportation. That’s why we also need your voice against any piece of legislation that targets us, especially in the negotiations of Brexit.