Tamil Solidarity would like to thank the National Shop Stewards Network for providing us with a table at its national conference last Saturday (11 June).
The conference brought together 400 trade union and workplace representatives from all over Britain. Many of these will be involved in the public-sector strike over pensions on 30 June – PCS civil servants, NUT teachers and ATL teachers and lecturers.
Others are facing victimisation because of their union activity – RMT London underground, Honda workers in Swindon, and Unison local government reps to name just a few examples.
Alongside workers taking action in the health service, on the Olympics and other construction sites, and many more, the conference was made up of some of the most committed trade unionists campaigning for their rights and conditions.
Tamil Solidarity members distributed a leaflet – see below – as part of our aim to link up the rights of the Tamil-speaking peoples in Sri Lanka, with the trade union movement in Britain and beyond. This aims to raise awareness in the trade union movement of the brutal oppression being faced by Tamil-speaking people in Sri Lanka. It calls for national union organisations and local union branches to pass resolutions in solidarity with the Tamil-speaking people.
Many Tamil-speaking people in Britain also work in the public sector, in the civil service, job centres, schools and colleges, and will be involved or affected by the government’s attack on pensions and cutbacks on public-sector provision. Many work in or for the health service which is also facing savage cuts and privatisation. Many are students being hit by massive increases in tuition fees, cuts in the education maintenance allowance and the commercialisation of education.
All of these people are involved in the fight back against the Con-Dem coalition government’s plan to dismantle the welfare state in Britain – and to hand it over to big business interested only in making a profit.
Tamil Solidarity encourages all Tamil-speaking people in Britain to get involved actively in this struggle. And to raise awareness within the trade union movement of the brutal oppression faced by Tamil-speaking people in Sri Lanka. The millions of trade unionists in Britain are natural and potentially powerful allies to the Tamils and all oppressed people.
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Below is the extract of the TSC leaflet
Tamil Solidarity (TSC), an international campaign, was set up in 2009 during the last months of the Sri Lankan government’s brutal war.
The recent UN advisory panel report also detailed ‘credible allegations of war crimes’. It is now widely accepted that the Sri Lankan government committed mass murder and that gross human rights violations took place during the war.
l Over 40,000 people were massacred in the final phase of the war alone.
l Up to 100,000 still remain in inhuman detention camps.
l Over 20,000 young people are still held in horrific prison camps.
International solidarity & pensions
As public sector workers in Britain face a massive onslaught on their jobs, rights and pay and conditions, the NSSN aims to provide a solidarity forum to build a fightback.
The trade union movement has a fantastic history of international solidarity and workers in Sri Lanka, suffering not only the war and its aftermath, but the regime’s constant attacks on democratic rights, media freedom, and trade union rights.
The Con-Dems have our pensions in their crosshairs. But so do the Sri Lankan government. It is helping Chinese and Indian big businesses to set up Free Trade Zones (FTZs), areas of concentrated exploitation. In the name of so called ‘rehabilitation’ they aim to provide the people in the detention camps and prisons as a cheap workforce.
Recently an FTZ worker was shot dead by the regime while he was protesting against the government’s IMF-led policy of implementing pension scheme.
We particularly appeal to trade union activists fighting for pensions here to lend their support to those fighting back in Sri Lanka.
Tamil Solidarity is campaigning to defend the rights of all workers. This includes defending hard-won trade union rights as well as helping to build new trade unions in areas decimated by the war and its aftermath.
Spread the support
Tamil Solidarity’s work in defending workers’ rights is supported by campaigns and activists throughout the Tamil community, including the British Tamils Forum (BTF).
TSC is the only campaign that takes up trade union work on behalf of the Tamil Diaspora in Britain as well as the oppressed masses in Sri Lanka. TSC also has the support of various trade unionists, youth forums, and activists in Sri Lanka.
TSC supports the NSSN and encourages participation among Tamil workers and young people in Britain. We also support anti-cuts and youth campaigns in their fight against all attacks on services and jobs here.
Supporting the Tamil Solidarity campaign is crucial to building solidarity between British workers and the workers in Sri Lanka.