Gayaal for Wellington Central

Closing statement: Gayaal for Wellington Central

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Gayaal Iddamalgoda, Wellington Central candidate for the Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign, says that a vote for him will send a pro-migrant signal to the major parties.

“I’m standing to oppose the use of migrants as a political football, and to say that what’s good for migrant workers is good for all New Zealand workers,” says Gayaal.

“Internationally, both the left and the right have pitted the ‘white working class’ and migrant labour against each-other. We totally refuse this racist divide-and-rule strategy.

“Migrants must be welcomed into the country, and into the trade union movement, to combine with other workers and fight for better conditions.

“Too much of the broad left approaches migrant exploitation backwards. To address exploitation you must go after the exploiters, not the exploited.

“Clearly migrants do not want to be underpaid, but the threat of deportation makes it easier for employers to brutally exploit them. Exclusion and exploitation reinforce eachother.

“With greater freedom to move and associate, migrants and locals would be enabled to challenge this super-exploitation.”

Gayaal says that a vote for him will send a signal to the major parties, that migrants will not be taken for granted and Wellingtonians will not tolerate xenophobia.G4Wgtn doorknocking

Gayaal for Wellington Central, Green Party, Migrant and Refugee Rights, World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day: Economic migrants just as legitimate as refugees

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Today on World Refugee Day, the Greens have released a policy to double the quota twice, with a target of 5,000 refugees. The Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign (MARRC) welcome this policy, but say that economic migrants must also be welcomed.

“It’s not enough to welcome refugees on one hand, and scapegoat economic migrants on the other,” says trade unionist and Wellington Central candidate Gayaal Iddamalgoda. “We call on the Greens to reject James Shaw’s policy of a 1% on immigration, which was not even democratically decided by the party.”

“Labour’s call to cut 10s of 1000s of immigrants, while increasing the refugee quota, is even worse in giving with one hand and taking with the other.”

Gayaal continues that playing ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ refugees and migrants against each other is a divide and rule tactic. “Divide and rule tactics just aid the race to the bottom; whether dividing ‘local’ and migrant workers, or refugees and migrant workers.”

Along with increasing the quota, MARRC demands full rights for all migrants. “What’s best for migrant workers is best for everyone; high-quality affordable housing, a Living Wage, and the right to organise with other workers for improved conditions. These policies benefit the majority, regardless of origin.”

Gayaal for Wellington Central

Why Gayaal is standing for Wellington Central

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Gayaal Iddamalgoda is Legal Organiser for FIRST Union, and Wellington Central candidate for the Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign (Aotearoa/NZ). We interview him on why he’s standing for Wellington Central.

Why do you support migrant/refugee rights?

Because I believe that what is good for refugee and migrants is good for all workers in Aotearoa.  Blaming migrants and refugees for the social and economic problems is a total farce. It protects the wealthy and powerful and deflects blame from the real problem which a system of growing inequality which puts workers of all nationalities and backgrounds at the bottom of the heap. Refugee and migrant workers are at the bottom of the heap, they are workers like everyone else but bosses use their isolation from the rest of the working class to drive down rights and conditions for all workers. We need to unite with migrants and refugees in order to make sure that all workers get the same rights and dignity. We need workers struggle to ensure that all workers have rights and dignity. I support refugee rights for similar reasons, wars caused by greedy imperialists disproportionately affect working people but while the rich are able to travel freely with their money wherever they please, ordinary working people’s movements is not free! Refugee rights is about freedom of movement and the basic right of all people to seek refuge from war and destruction wherever they chose.

How does your whakapapa inform your political perspective?

My family were Sri Lankan migrants. While they were lucky enough not to come here as part of any refugee quota, they did flee war and political strife. Growing up in New Zealand I saw first hand through my parents the deep psychological scars that come with dislocation and war. It gave me a deep sense of human rights and social justice. Migrants like my family are not only hard working, they also have a deep sense of resilience and a strong will to resist injustice. I really do feel that these experiences have been passed down to me and I am grateful for it.

How does your experience as a trade unionist inform your understanding of migrant/refugee rights?

As a trade unionist, I have the honour of being a part of the closest thing we have to a democratic movement. While the trade unions have a long way to go in living up to this potential, I firmly believe in the principle of workers organising together and fighting for political, social and economic power in a system that promotes the interests of a wealthy and greedy elite. I see the power of workers organizing together and I see that the interests of working people are aligned, despite any differences of race, gender, sexuality etc.

I have also had first hand insight into the oppression of migrant workers [many of whom have refugee backgrounds] and have become dismayed by the inability of these workers to access even the most basic protections as workers. Everything seems slated against them, from social prejudice and racism to unfair visa restrictions that tie them to their employers in ways that New Zealand workers are not. Refugee and migrant workers bring a net benefit to the economy and produce wealth and jobs, yet they are scapegoated by their fellow workers and kept down by racist employment and immigration policies.

What do you think of Andrew Little’s recent call to cut immigration by ‘tens of thousands’?

I think it’s appalling coming from a party that claims to represent the interests of ordinary New Zealanders. Instead of pointing the finger at bosses and corporates who increase their wealth and power at the expense of these ‘ordinary people’, Andrew little prefers to play into unfounded xenophobic scapegoating. It is sad that the so called Labour party cannot find the guts to stand up for labour, which includes the thousands of migrants working in New Zealand in near slave like conditions. It is also completely callous that Andrew Little makes this posturing in a time when we face one of the greatest refugee crises of human history.

Andrew Little’s posturing is also really absurd in light of the actual flow of immigrants into the country. It is a unsubstantial comment which seeks to sensationalise beyond any reason the real nature of immigration and make immigrants look like a dark and sinister force. It reminds me of old racist paranoia from the 19th century. It astonishes me that we have not really moved past that.

What do you hope to achieve by standing?

I hope to draw people into debates about refugee and migrant rights. I hope to challenge the causal xenophobia and expose the racist myths that lie under them. I hope to start a conversation among workers, their organisations and their unions about the importance of migrant and refugee rights and I want to make the point: ‘What’s good for migrants/refugees is good for everyone’.

Gayaal for Wellington Central, Migrant and Refugee Rights, National Party

Changes to ‘low-skilled migrant’ category bound to keep work insecure

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The Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign has come out against changes to the rights of ‘lower-skilled’ migrants. The group says that setting a maximum duration of three years for ‘lower skilled’ work, and further shaping seasonal work around peak labour demand, will exacerbate the insecurity of migrant workers’ conditions.

“Although the changes are fairly superficial, they are taking things in the opposite direction from where we need to go,” says Gayaal Iddamalgoda, Wellington Central candidate and spokesperson for the campaign.

“By exacerbating the insecurity of so-called ‘lower-skilled’ migrant workers, these changes will enable further abuse by employers,” says Gayaal Iddamalgoda, Wellington Central candidate and spokesperson for the campaign.

“Fruit pickers, care workers, and other migrant workers perform essential services, and should be justly remunerated with secure contracts.”

“Migrant workers are already illegally underpaid under the Regional Seasonal Employer scheme, and these changes will only exacerbate this problem. Increased security of work would mean that migrant workers are more confident to raise concerns, and reverse the race to the bottom.”

“These changes will only allow employers to drive down wages and conditions, making the existing problem worse.”

The Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign has called a May Day March for migrant and refugee rights in Wellington. The event will begin with speeches on Cuba St, midday on Monday the 1st, before marching on Immigration New Zealand to deliver a written statement. Groups participating in the march include Changemakers Refugee Forum, the Public Service Association (PSA), the International Socialist Organisation, Peace Action Wellington, Fightback and Doing Our Bit – Double the Refugee Quota.

 

Gayaal for Wellington Central, Labour Party, Migrant and Refugee Rights, Worker Rights

Labour’s pandering to xenophobia unacceptable

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Phil Twyford’s call to cut immigration is unacceptable, says Migrant and Refugee Rights spokesperson/Wellington Central candidate Gayaal Iddamalgoda.

“We need a Left that will challenge xenophobia,” says Gayaal, “Rather than pandering to the logic that allowed Trump’s rise.”

Gayaal says that the notion of migrants as a strain is misleading. “Resource distribution is not a zero-sum game. Migrants are a net benefit to New Zealand in terms of GDP and taxes paid, not a strain on infrastructure.”

Gayaal says that there is a problem with exploitation under work visas, but this would be best addressed by ensuring that migrant workers have the right to organise for better conditions.

“As a unionist, I represent migrant workers daily,” says Gayaal. “There’s nothing inevitable about the race to the bottom, only solidarity can undermine that logic of competition, and improve conditions for everyone.”

“Divide and rule is the oldest trick in the book.”

The Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign has called a May Day March for migrant and refugee rights in Wellington. The event will begin with speeches on Cuba St, midday on Monday the 1st, before marching on Immigration New Zealand to deliver a written statement. Groups participating in the march include Changemakers Refugee Forum, the Public Service Association (PSA), the International Socialist Organisation, Peace Action Wellington, Fightback and Doing Our Bit – Double the Refugee Quota.

Events, Gayaal for Wellington Central, Migrant and Refugee Rights, Worker Rights

May Day march for migrant and refugee rights announced

The newly formed Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign (MARRC) has called a march on May Day in Wellington Central. The march will call for improved rights for migrant and refugee workers.

“May Day has a long history of mobilisation for workers’ rights,” says Gayaal Iddamalgoda, a union lawyer and MARRC candidate for Wellington Central. “This year, given the international upsurge of divisive xenophobia, we are mobilising for the rights of migrant workers.”

“Some call for a cap on immigration,” continues Gayaal. “Rather than attempting to put the toothpaste back in the tube, we demand full rights for migrant workers.”

“What’s best for migrant workers is best for everyone. Migrant workers need a living wage, cheap high-quality housing, and the freedom to organise with other New Zealanders to improve their conditions.”

“We challenge Labour and the Greens to stand with us for migrant and refugee rights.”

The event will begin with speeches on Cuba St, midday on Monday the 1st, before marching on Immigration New Zealand to deliver a written statement. Groups participating in the march include the Public Service Association (PSA), the International Socialist Organisation, Peace Action Wellington, Fightback and Doing Our Bit – Double the Refugee Quota.

[Facebook event]

Anti-Fascism, Gayaal for Wellington Central

Zero tolerance for white supremacy

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Source: Newshub.

A Wellington Central electoral candidate says that a recently announced white supremacist group in Wellington cannot be tolerated. The so-called ‘Western Guard’ announced yesterday that they have a Wellington chapter.

“We cannot allow what has happened in the USA to happen here,” says Gayaal, a union lawyer and Wellington candidate for the Migrant and Refugee Rights Campaign. “We will shut down any attempt that white supremacists make to propagate their hate.”

Gayaal highlights the case of the white supremacist Auckland European Students Association, which was forced to disband after mobilisations by opposition groups. “As we’ve seen in Auckland, mobilisation works in shutting down white supremacy,” says Gayaal.