Unions and Migrant Organisations’ challenge government’s plans for higher NHS and visa fees


“Migrant workers are a vital part of our communities and our workforce. They are the backbone of our public services, and our migrant members already face the hostility of the immigration system.”

By The Joint Council For The Welfare Of Immigrants

All workers deserve decent pay, but this should never come off the backs of migrants, or used as a tool to stoke division in our workforce and our communities.

Over 60 trade unions and migrant organisations – including the BMA, NEU, NASUWT, GMB and PCS – have come together to call out the government’s plan to fund a public sector pay rise through higher NHS and visa fees for migrants.  

Joint Statement 

As trade unions and migrant organisations, we stand against this Government’s attempts to pit worker against worker.

We know that an injury to one is an injury to all. All workers deserve decent pay, safe working conditions and protections if our bosses seek to take advantage of us. Public sector workers deserve pay rises, but we strongly oppose any decision to fund this by further taxing migrants, by hiking visa costs and NHS fees. This is a blatant attempt to sow division within the labour movement and our communities.

Increasing the Immigration Health Surcharge by 66% and increasing visa costs will push ever more people into destitution and poverty. The UK already effectively taxes migrants twice for healthcare, and has some of the most extortionate visa fees in Europe – a migrant family of four often has to pay around £50,000 over 10 years for the right to stay. This massive increase is simply unaffordable – it will price workers out of being able to afford a visa and force thousands further into poverty during the cost of living crisis, or out of the country.

Migrant workers are a vital part of our communities and our workforce. They are the backbone of our public services, and our migrant members already face the hostility of the immigration system. No worker should be pushed into poverty, unsustainable debt or homelessness simply because of the papers they hold.

We urge the Government to abandon its plans to increase NHS and visa fees for migrants and meet the pay demands of our public sector workers through progressive taxation which ensures those with the broadest shoulders contribute more to our vital public services. 

Signed by:

  • British Medical Association (BMA)
  • The GMB
  • NASUWT – The Teachers’ Union
  • The National Education Union (NEU)
  • Public & Commercial Services Union (PCS)
  • University and College Union (UCU)
  • Society of Radiologists
  • Social Workers Union (SWU)
  • Fire Brigades Union (FBU)
  • Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU)
  • International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)
  • Asylum Matters
  • Black Europeans
  • Bradford Rape Crisis
  • CARIS Haringey
  • Caritas Shrewsbury
  • Doctors of the World
  • Duhra Solicitors
  • English for Action (EFA) London
  • Evesham Vale Welcomes Refugees 
  • Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX)
  • Fresh Grassroots Rainbow Community 
  • Gatwick Detainees Welfare Group
  • Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (GMIAU)
  • Haringey Welcome
  • Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI)
  • Kent Refugee Help
  • Kiran Support services
  • Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS)
  • Leeds Anti-Raids Action
  • Maternity Action
  • Maternity Stream, City of Sanctuary UK
  • Medact
  • Migrants At Work
  • Migrant Democracy Project
  • Migrant Voice
  • Migrants Organise
  • Migrants’ Rights Network
  • Music Action International
  • Pan-African Workers Association (PAWA)
  • Paul Hamlyn Foundation 
  • POMOC (Polish Migrants Organise for Change)
  • Positive Action For Refugees and Asylum Seekers (PAFRAS)
  • Praxis
  • Project 17
  • Public Interest Law Centre
  • RAMA (Refugee, Asylum seeker & Migrant Action)
  • Refugee and Migrants Forum of Essex and London (RAMFEL)
  • Refugee, Asylum Seeker and Migrant Action (RAMA)
  • Reunite Families UK
  • Right to Remain
  • Runnymede Trust
  • Seraphus
  • South London Refugee Association
  • South Yorkshire Refugee Law and Justice
  • The Unity Project
  • the3million
  • United Impact
  • We Belong 
  • Welsh Refugee Council
  • Women’s Budget Group
  • Yorkshire Migrants Solidarity Movement 
  • The Voice of Domestic Workers

Featured image: The JCWI join other migrants’ rights campaigns in showing solidarity with migrant workers on May Day 2023. Photo credit: JCWI/Twitter

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