Refugees and Migrants
An acrostic poem ie. one in which the first letters of each line spell out the key word:
Looks like this, does it, liberation?
Isolated from supplies, routes closed, blown from the skies
Barrel bombs bowled along alleys
Enclaved civilians tweet from their graves, farewells from beneath
Rubble, the stones where their homes used to be
Aleppo cries, crumbles, defeated, they see
Tyranny returning, triumphant, burning
Inhabitants gathered, culled, or running for their lives
Out of the city, fleeing as they wouldn't if they had actually been freed
No, this is not what liberation looks like.
The NHS is not another country
Going to clinic's not a trip abroad
Its purpose is for treating not for hunting
No frontiers from reception to the ward
I have to cross the town not cross the oceans
A hospital's no tourist trap now, is it?
Rather than the needles, stitches, lotions
So many other sites I'd rather visit
Not smuggling drugs nor medicines nor pills in
The staff are healers, they're not border guards
I've nothing to declare except my illness
I don't send postcards, I get Get Well cards
- They treat my sickness not my shade of skin
- Why should I need a passport to get in?
Text of the George Lansbury Memorial Lecture, given on 16 November 2016 at Queen Mary University, London.
They keep children in containers
Crate them and detain them
Gate them and restrain them
No watering or feeding
The potted, planted seedlings
In readiness for weeding
They'll live but they won't grow
Goaded, loaded, shipped to go
With winter whipping in the snow
It's probably for the best
To centres to be processed
The furthest and the closest
- France - Women trade unionists have been concentrating on increasing women's involvement in the unions, and on campaigning against violence against women. At Gare du Nord railway station, African women cleaners are often sexually assaulted by male bosses. Some men say that it does not matter, that women are making it up, or that they 'have a chip on their shoulder'.
- Italy - There is very good legislation on women's rights - for example on maternity - but the economic and cultural situation means that women are still disadvantaged. Italy has the lowest rate of women's employment in Europe, and needs investment in public services and industries to create jobs for women. As the government cuts welfare services, it relies on women to act as unpaid carers.
- Belgium - In the Port of Antwerp, an agreement has been signed by the union and the employer regarding women's employment on the docks. this emphasises equal recruitment policies rather than quotas. But the employers need challenging to ensure that they abide by the agreement.
- Netherlands - Some men - even some union men - say that women who work on the docks are taking men's jobs. And they say that if you do a 'man's job' then you must go along with 'men's humour' ie. sexist banter. As a minority, women are abused, whether through 'jokes' or touching. The solution is not new laws but the enforcement of existing laws, but the Inspectorate is understaffed. Migrant women workers are taken on in jobs with only a few hours work, and then told that they must give sexual favours to get more work. Women are not confident to complain about abuse, so the union is using organisers from other countries to speak to women in their own language.
- UK - I reported on the ScotRail victory and ongoing fight to defend guards' jobs; the abuse of women cleaners; the impact of ticket office clsures and de-staffing of stations.
- Many countries - A recurring theme in reports from the various countries is that European Union legislation is useful, but that it needs to be monitored and implemented, with sanctions against companies that do not abdie by gender equality policies. Employers find ways around legislation, so legislation is not enough.
You don't look small and cute enough
Your upper lip has grown some fluff
You look quite tall and rather tough
You show the scars of sleeping rough
You look so foreign, feral, wild
You don't look like a child
On 21 September, the White House published a letter that President Obama had received from six-year-old New Yorker Alex, offering a home to Omran, the Syrian boy whose photo had circulated widely.
Please tell the boy in the ambulance
To come and live at ours
And we will greet him in the street
With flags, balloons and flowers
Beneath that dust I know he must
Be frightened as can be
But when he's washed the bloodstains off
I think he'll look like me
SpeakEasy: Spoken Word Brussels is an ‘open mic’ evening of spoken word (and a bit of music) in a basement in the Ixelles area of the city. Modelled on similar events in Paris and London, it has been taking place every two weeks since November last year.
With a nod to The Jam's 'Man in the Corner Shop' ...
Turns the closed sign does the man in the border post
Rejects his last and says goodbye to her
He knows it is a hard life
But he has to follow orders really
Walks back to camp does the last applicant
She's not angry with the man in the border post
She is sick of struggling so hard
She says it must be nice to have a home to go to