December 08, 2013

IWA-GB Conference Enters New Era

THE Indian Workers’ Association Great Britain (IWA-GB) concluded its national conference at Leicester on November 23. The conference celebrated the 75th anniversary of IWA-GB and marked the launch of a new era in the organisation. One may note that the new central executive committee of the organisation has Joginder Kaur Bains as its national general secretary, the first woman in this position. The conference noted that the IWA-GB had further consolidated its position as the first choice organisation for the Indian Diaspora in Great Britain during the last decade. It reported a real growth in terms of membership and the number of branches, meaning an extension of the base of the IWA-GB among the masses. The IWA-GB has over the last two years attracted many Indian people coming from different parts of India and living in Great Britain and Ireland. The conference reviewed the impact of the Ghadar Party centenary celebration programme. It recalled the historic links of the IWA-GB to the Ghadar movement, with a Workers Association set up by Rajani Palme Dutt in the 1930s as a response to the disbanding of the Ghadar Party by the USA. The IWA-GB was established on December 23, 1938 at the Queens Road Coventry, for supporting the freedom movement then going on in India. The IWA-GB, which was closely associated with Shaheed Udham Singh, became a voice and representative body of the Indian Diaspora in Great Britain --- a responsibility that it has discharged with distinction for the last 75 years. The delegates session discussed, amended and endorsed the report of the organisation. The conference applauded the CEC on its recent campaign, calling for the withdrawal of the 3,000 pounds visa bond proposal, opposition to ad vans and exposure of text messages targeting migrants. The conference endorsed a call to oppose the discriminatory elements of the immigration bill currently going through parliament. The conference called for immediate reinstatement of the appeal rights for family visitors. It demanded that the government must allow all student dependants the right to work to live. In this context the IWA-GB further sought the withdrawal of the draconian proposals for the removal of the in-country appeal rights on human rights applications, penalty for landlords for failing to verify the immigration status of tenants, the move to cancel the citizenship from naturalised people thus rendering them as stateless, and the imposition of a 200 pounds surcharge for accessing the National Health Service (NHS), putting lives at risk. The conference will be campaigning across Great Britain and Ireland for the withdrawal of mandatory language test imposed on settlement and naturalisation for people outside the European Union with retrospective effect. The IWA-GB welcomed the remarks recorded by David Cameron as the first serving prime minister in the visitors' book of Jallianwala Bagh National Memorial Trust after paying homage to the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh massacre where he laid a wreath on the memorial by bending on his knees and observed silence for a minute. "This was a deeply shameful act in British history – one that Winston Churchill rightly described at that time as 'monstrous'," Cameron wrote. He further wrote, "We must never forget what happened here." Advocating the right for peaceful protest in an apparent correlation to Jallianwala Bagh massacre where more than a thousand peacefully protesting people were shot dead on the orders of Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, Cameron wrote in concluding line, "And in remembering we must ensure that United Kingdom stands up for the right of peaceful protest around the world." At the start of preparations for the centenary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre, the IWA-GB called for the formal recording of an apology by the British government in parliament, along the lines of the sentiments expressed by David Cameron. Among the other conference resolutions, there was a call to campaign for an increase in the national minimum wage to a living wage. This is required by the immigration services for the settlement of spouses. The IWA-GB will be campaigning for the “No to EU, Yes to Democracy” during the next year’s European elections. The IWA-GB will also support the International Commission for the Miami 5. The Indian Workers’ Association Great Britain has dedicated 2014 as the year for celebrating the 150th anniversary of the International Workingmen’s Association (IWA) organised by Karl Marx on September 28, 1864.