Workers at the Asylum Support and Immigration Resource Team (ASIRT) charity in Birmingham have announced they will take strike action on 21 December in response to a range of issues with the management of the charity and a refusal to recognise their trade union of choice.
The striking workers, members of the United Voices of the World (UVW) union, are calling for the charity to stop the planned dissolution and instead keep providing vital services to the migrant and refugee communities in Birmingham. They also demand that the management of ASIRT grant them a voice at work that will allow them to collectively bargain for better working conditions and pay.
Eve Phillips, immigration caseworker for ASIRT and UVW member, said:
“Undocumented people across the West Midlands, who use and need this legal support service, have been entirely disregarded by Trustees. The trustees have consistently refused transparency or to meaningfully consult with workers in any ways that could prevent the charity’s closure, for example by hearing our ideas about how the responsibilities of the Director, a role to which they’ve failed to recruit, could be met in other ways, utilising the experience and expertise of the workers. We are striking in solidarity with the people we work with and advocate on behalf of every day.”
UVW, a migrant and precarious workers union, believes that their members fight for a voice at work and attempts to save ASIRT are of vital importance, not just for the workers, but also for the migrant and refugee communities in Birmingham.
UVW calls on the ASIRT trustees to listen to the workers’ demands, and to take immediate action to address their legitimate concerns.
The strike at ASIRT is the latest in a series of industrial actions taken by workers in the UK including UVW members, as an increasing number of workers demand better working conditions and pay. The outcome of the strike at ASIRT will be closely watched by workers and trade unions across the UK.
Matt Collins, organiser for UVW, said:
“Our members see no credible reason to dissolve this much needed service, UVW calls on the labour movement to back our members to save a crucial legacy of the anti-racist struggles of the people of Birmingham and assert the right of charity workers to organise”.