From the very beginning of the migrations flows, we clearly defined our class-based position on the matter. We clashed with racist beliefs and we fought for immigrant rights, in order to stop their exploitation by the employers. We have fought and we are still fighting, in order for immigrants to join the trade union movement and participate in the struggles.
However, what was done yesterday is not enough in today’s environment, as the capital has launched a full-scale assault on the life of the working class. Today, it is more imperative than ever to work consistently, with a plan in mind.
It is necessary to repeat two things here:
- The working class is one, regardless of colour, religion, language or place of origin.
- Immigration, both internal and external, is not the choice of the immigrants. People immigrate because they are forced to do so, due to a lack of choices because of imperialistic wars and poverty.
There are no legal or illegal immigrants. Documents cannot stop the exploitation of workers, both locals and immigrants, by capital.
The conscious choice of governments not to provide financial immigrants and political refugees with the necessary legal documents as per the European treaties of SCHENGEN and DUBLIN 2, is being used by employers to acquire cheaper labour force as leverage to reduce the salaries of local workers.
So the cause of the exploitation is the criminal actions of capital, expressed in wars and even in stealing the wealth of entire countries, which deepen the contradictions of capital and labour and helps increasing the immigration flow.
It is obvious that we cannot talk about developments in our organisations’ sectors, without including our immigrant colleagues in our struggles. The solution of the problems of immigrant workers, similar to the problems faced by nationals, pertains to the development of a class-based struggle and its ability to seek and impose solutions to working class problems. Within such solutions, all relevant immigrant problems such as legal status, teaching of their language, culture and history in schools etc., can also be solved.
Our duty is to mobilise immigrants aiming at their participation in all aspects of the class-based movement. We will face a serious problem if we do not change the ideas many immigrants have, of working for a short period of time and then leaving, which makes them only worry about getting paid their day labour, without discussing the level of their payment, the number of hours they have to work, or issues such as insurance, pension etc.
We have the ability to pay special attention to second generation immigrants. Thousands of young people, born and raised in the host countries, work in our sectors or study in primary, secondary or tertiary education. All these people, along with our own, will be the working class’ shift of tomorrow and they will be the unemployed of tomorrow; they are the ones who will have to endure the flexible forms of employment and face the insecurity of not receiving a pension. It is precisely for them that we must establish a plan and move forward step by step.
It would not be a hyperbole to state that such work can be the oxygen for our organisations, as it will decide many things in the future. We should not forget that there are other forces – trade union or political – which interfere in order to serve the interests of the employers. These are forces which openly cultivate racism and nationalism, especially when unemployment is rampant, which makes their audience significantly larger.
All these factors function towards the framing of the immigrants for the acute problems of the working class, so as to cover up the true cause, which is capitalism. They all want a divided working class, without unity, which is an easy prey in the hands of capital.
Immigrant workers are a part of the working class. They have the same problems with local workers and the same interest in getting rid of the criminal actions of monopolies and capitalism.
Closing this chapter, we feel the need to repeat Marx’s ever-relevant saying about African-American slaves:
“White workers will never achieve freedom, as long as there are black slaves”.