Archive for the ‘migration’ Tag

Union leader seeks change to EU directive

Union leader seeks change to EU directive

Europe’s top trade unionist on Thursday warned European Union policymakers that protectionism, economic nationalism and labour discontent would grow unless they improved pay rates for EU workers employed outside their home countries.

In an interview with the Financial Times, John Monks, general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation, called for a review of the EU’s 1999 posted workers directive, which he said did too little to stop some employers from paying lower wages to workers hired from abroad than to local staff.

Mr Monks spoke out against a background of rising political tensions in the EU over how to defend jobs and industries in France, Germany, the UK and other countries without shattering the 27-nation bloc’s single internal market.

Spontaneous strikes broke out at several British plants last month after a construction contract at Total’s Lindsey oil refinery was awarded to a company using labour drawn mainly from Italy and Portugal. The dispute was resolved only when Total promised to earmark half the jobs for local workers.

“Revising the posted workers directive is not some kind of sly attempt to undermine the single market,” Mr Monks said. “It’s to establish rules that make it more acceptable and defensible in the circles in which we [trade unionists] move.”


Breakthrough as half of jobs in foreign labour row ‘will go to British workers’

Breakthrough as half of jobs in foreign labour row ‘will go to British workers’

TALKS aimed at resolving the bitter row over foreign workers ended last night with the outline of a possible deal aimed at breaking the deadlock.
The conciliation service Acas chaired yesterday’s meeting between union officials, representatives of Total, which owns he Lincolnshire oil refinery at the centre of the dispute, and the Italian sub-contractor which has hired its own workforce.

ions claimed that British workers had been excluded from the contract with Irem, which has brought around 200 Italian and Portuguese workers to the UK.

Union sources said the suggested deal involved offering half the jobs in the disputed contract to UK workers.

Acas said in a brief statement last night: “Conclusions are to be discussed with a large group of local trade union officials first thing tomorrow morning. This will be followed by a mass meeting of the workforce.”

One Band Moves Its Metal Out of Iraq

One Band Moves Its Metal Out of Iraq

It was a heavy metal miracle.

Acrassicauda had been through hell as a rock band in wartime Baghdad. Its practice space was bombed. Its members were branded Satan worshipers and received death threats for making Western-style music. Then they suffered through two purgatorial years as refugees in Syria and Turkey, killing time and dreaming of rocking out in the land of the free.

And on Sunday night, two days after the last of the band’s four members was resettled in the United States, they enjoyed what any metal fan would have to call heaven: bearhugs and “Wow, dude” heart-to-hearts backstage with Metallica at the Prudential Center in Newark. It probably wasn’t necessary for James Hetfield, Metallica’s lead singer, to surprise them after the show by handing over one of his guitars, a black ESP, and signing it “Welcome to America”; their minds were already blown.

Boris Johnson: Gary McKinnon believes in little green men – but it doesn’t make him a terrorist

Boris Johnson: Gary McKinnon believes in little green men – but it doesn’t make him a terrorist

Way to go, Mr President. I think we can all agree that it has been a cracking first week. Apart from the swearing-in glitch – which was entirely the fault of that judge – I have supported just about everything that Barack Obama has done.

I liked the speech, and the promise that America is ready to lead again. It is good news that he is getting rid of Guantanamo and water-boarding and extraordinary rendition, all the dread apparatus of the Bush regime.

But before we all get too misty-eyed about the new era, and before Barack devotes himself entirely to the meltdown of the banks, there is one more thing in his diplomatic in-tray. There is one last piece of neocon lunacy that needs to be addressed, and Mr Obama could sort it out at the stroke of a pen.

In a legal nightmare that has lasted seven years, and cost untold millions to taxpayers both here and in America, the US Justice Department is persisting in its demented quest to extradite 43-year-old Londoner, Gary McKinnon.

To listen to the ravings of the US military, you would think that Mr McKinnon is a threat to national security on a par with Osama bin Laden. According to the Americans, this mild-mannered computer programmer has done more damage to their war-fighting capabilities than all the orange-pyjama-clad suspects of Guantanamo combined.

And how? He is a hacker.

More information on Gary McKinnon can be found at

Israel hits UN refugee agency in Gaza

Israel hits UN refugee agency in Gaza

The headquarters of the UN refugee agency was on fire today as Israeli forces pushed deeper into Gaza City, unleashing the heaviest shelling of densely packed neighbourhoods since their military operation began nearly three weeks ago.

Separately, the AFP news agency quoted witnesses as saying that a wing of the Al-Quds hospital in south-west Gaza, where hundreds more people had taken shelter early today from advancing Israeli tanks, was on fire after being struck. It was not clear if there were any injuries.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, angrily demanded an investigation into why the compound of the UN Relief and Works Agency, a well-known location in Gaza which was marked with blue UN flags, was attacked, expressing “strong protest and outrage”. The number of casualties in Gaza, now 1,055 according to local officials, had “reached an unbearable point”, Ban added.

First identity cards issued to foreign nationals in Sheffield

First identity cards issued to foreign nationals in Sheffield

HOME OFFICE News Release (234/2008) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 17 December 2008

For the first time, foreign nationals in Sheffield can enrol for identity cards containing their facial image and fingerprints, the Home Secretary announced during a visit to the city today.

ID cards will securely lock foreign nationals to one identity and help businesses crack down on illegal working.

Biometric enrolment for the cards – which involves individuals having their digital photograph and fingerprints recorded – will take place at the UK Border Agency’s Vulcan House building. The Home Secretary opened the building today and met some of the 1,900 staff working there.

The Home Secretary also met staff working on the new Australian-style points system for migrant workers – which also operates from the new building. The points system is the UK’s tough new measure for managing migration to the UK.

Indigenous Christian exit from Iraq continues to grow

Indigenous Christian exit from Iraq continues to grow

Words of encouragement from local, regional and international church leaders, who want Christian institutions to remain in Iraq, have not been able to stem a tide of Iraqi refugees from leaving their country in the face of violence – writes Chris Herlinger.

The family of 60-year-old Basil Mati Koriya Kaktoma and his wife, Ekram Ishak Buni Safar, aged 55, have lived in Syria since July 2006. Refugees such as these are adamant they will never return to their homeland given their experience of threats, physical abuse and, in the case of Kaktoma, a week-long abduction by Muslim gunmen Kaktoma believes targeted him because he is Christian.

“I’d rather go to hell than go back to Iraq,” Kaktoma said in a recent interview in the family’s cramped apartment in Damascus. “What I saw was so horrible that I can’t even look at a map of my own country.”

Syrian-based leaders of the Chaldean Catholic Church, to which Kaktoma belongs, acknowledge the painful and paradoxical situation Christian institutions face because of the sectarian nature of violence in Iraq.

While they want the Church to remain in Iraq, which is a country with one of the oldest Christian communities in the world, the leaders believe the long-term outlook for a church presence in Iraq is precarious.

In this situation, the Church must also offer succour to the thousands of displaced Christians who now reside in Syria and Lebanon but hope to join family members in countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia.

“The Christians lost a lot in this situation,” Antoine Audo, the Chaldean Catholic bishop of Aleppo, Syria, said about the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the political and social chaos that followed. “It’s very important to have the continuity of [Christian] history in the region. Our presence is important. We have a unique experience of living with Islam.”

Mayor calls for migrants amnesty

Mayor calls for migrants amnesty

Boris Johnson last night called for an “earned amnesty” for thousands of illegal immigrants living in the capital.

The London mayor has launched a review into the feasibility of granting an amnesty to an estimated 400,000 people living illegally in London. It is expected to report in two months.

Johnson has departed from the Conservative party line in his belief that people who have resided illegally for years in the capital should “earn” their citizenship. Although he has no legal powers over immigration policy, the mayor told Channel 4 he wanted to “lead the debate” on the issue. The mayor is expected to lobby the government once the City Hall review is complete, although both Labour and the Conservatives regard the issue as politically toxic and have in the past attacked the Liberal Democrats for suggesting it.

He first floated proposals for an amnesty for long-standing illegal immigrants during his mayoral campaign, prompting David Cameron to comment that one amnesty would just “store up” the need for a further one down the line.

Johnson’s spokesman conceded yesterday that the mayor “cannot change the laws on immigration”, but he added: “It is his job as mayor to speak out for people in London on issues where he has relevant things to say.”

Beheaded after trying for asylum in Australia

Beheaded after trying for asylum in Australia

AN AFGHAN asylum seeker rejected by Australia under the Howard government was tortured and beheaded by kidnappers less than four weeks ago in a province south of Kabul.

The man, Mohammed Hussain, was thrown down a well by gunmen, believed to be the Taliban. Then in front of onlookers including members of his family, the killers threw a hand grenade down the well and he was decapitated.

Accounts of the killing were given to Phil Glendenning, director of the Edmund Rice Centre, this week. He told the Herald he has verified the events with four different sources in Afghanistan.