The government is playing Jenga with my future and if they pull the piece I could become illegal in this country overnight
International workers in the Norfolk County branch have made a short film telling the story of their fears and apprehensions following the UK’s vote to leave the EU.
A branch steward, an EU worker who had experienced prejudice and hostility in the wake of the vote, called on the branch to look at ways to support its EU27 members. When stewards from Australia and the USA also reported similar experiences the branch decided to widen participation. It brought together a group of international workers to agree what UNISON should be doing. As a result the international workers’ group was established. The group is entirely self-organised, is run by international workers and focuses on the concerns of international workers.
Its first meeting was held in August 2016 and three clear areas were identified:
- Pursuing issues with employers, particularly Norfolk County Council
- Education of UNISON members and the wider workforce
- Developing a support network for EU27 and international workers
In just over a year later they have:
- A statement signed by all the political group leaders on Norfolk County Council (NCC) recognising the benefits of having EU27 workers and speaking up for them to retain the same rights post Brexit to those they currently have
- Proposed that NCC allow paid time off for EU27 workers seeking UK citizenship to cover attending various locations and study leave. We have had an initial positive response and hope for a final decision soon
- Lobbied MP’s and councillors on the rights of EU27 workers
- Worked with local community groups speaking out and campaigning for the rights of EU27 workers and their families.
- Made a film to highlight the continuing impact of Brexit on workers and public service with the intention of gaining support for our actions and hopefully getting more people active
To find out more about the group email branch secretary Jonathan Dunning