Unique among Tamil campaigns and organisations, Tamil Solidarity puts the working class and its organisations at the centre of the struggle for Tamil rights. We stand for the right of the Tamil-speaking people in Sri Lanka to self-determination, alongside the struggle for the rights of workers and the oppressed throughout the island, regardless of their ethnic/religious background.
In Britain, we have consistently linked that struggle to the trade union movement. Tamil Solidarity activists have intervened at union conferences around the country, and have addressed many union branch meetings and events, raising awareness of the issues facing Tamils – both in Sri Lanka and Britain – appealing for affiliations, donations and active support.
We have launched a ‘Join a Union’ initiative as an attempt to engage with union branches, and aiming to recruit Tamil workers into the union movement. The 300,000 Tamils living in Britain are concentrated in low-paid jobs – many in unorganised food and retail sectors, a significant number in the public sector. Many Tamil youth are in further/higher education. Most Tamils live in the working-class districts of Britain’s cities, affected by savage austerity.
This work has met with some success, including winning the national affiliation of Unison. Tamil Solidarity has had official stalls at Unison’s national conference, and its women’s and black members’ conferences for the past two years. We have also got the affiliation of West Midlands Unison International Forum this year, London RMT executive last year, and a number of union branches, in particular Unison and Unite, but also NUT.
We are aiming to raise the number of union affiliations – national, regional and branch ones and also trades councils. Please see below for a model affiliation motion.
Yours in solidarity
Isai Priya, USDAW shop steward (personal capacity) and Tamil Solidarity trade union organiser
email: [email protected];
This trade union branch/body agrees to affiliate to the Tamil Solidarity campaign.
Regarding the Tamils in Sri Lanka, we note:
• Many reports – by the UN, Channel 4, human rights organisations, etc – have highlighted the slaughter of
tens of thousands of Tamil civilians by Sri Lankan armed forces in 2009.
• Hundreds of thousands were then held in open prison camps, thousands were ‘disappeared’.
• Tamil women have been subjected to systematic rape and sexual violence by Sri Lankan armed forces.
• No one from the Sri Lankan government or armed forces has been held accountable for these well-documented
war crimes and human rights abuses.
• Predominantly Tamil land in the north and east is now under military occupation.
On the general situation in Sri Lanka, we note:
• A general clampdown on democratic rights throughout Sri Lanka continues. Sri Lanka is still considered
unsafe place for journalists, human rights campaigners and other activists. Sri Lankan government enforced
ban on various organisations and individuals who fight for human rights continues.
• Violent nationalist groups continue to threaten and attack minorities.
• ‘Free economic zones’ are being opened up, allowing overseas multinationals to further exploit sweatshop
• The driving through of privatisation, job losses and cut-backs in public services, hitting working people
and the poor hardest.
Regarding the Tamil Solidarity campaign, we note:
• Since 2009 Tamil Solidarity has campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of the situation facing the Tamils
in Sri Lanka.
• Tamil Solidarity is a non-sectarian campaign taking up the rights of workers and all oppressed people in
Sri Lanka, regardless of their ethnic or religious background.
• Tamil Solidarity implemented ‘join a union’ initiative to encourage workers from the Tamil community to
get involved in the trade union movement in Britain.
Tamil Solidarity call for an independent war crimes investigation; the withdrawal of troops from
Tamil areas; an end to detention without trial; to stop arms sales to Sri Lanka; for democratic rights
for all; support for independent trade unions; to defend the right of Tamil self-determination.
Tamil Solidarity asks for a minimum annual affiliation of £50 per branch (or similar sized body),£100-150
per district/region/group, and £250 per national union body.
Please make cheques out to Tamil Solidarity, sent to the above address. Direct BACS payments can also be
made: email [email protected] for bank details.
Affiliates receive a monthly National Coordinating Committee report, notification of events, and other
information as required. News can be found on our website:www.tamilsolidarity.org .
We welcome questions/suggestions and wish to deepen our work with the trade union movement.
We can provide speakers to meetings and events.
Please forward this motion to regional/national bodies of our union as appropriate, and encourage them to
support/affiliate as appropriate.