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Indian workers body to oppose changes

The Indian Workers Association calls for joint action by all Asian and other ethnic minority organisations in Britain.

india Updated: Feb 26, 2008 11:19 IST

The Indian Workers Association (IWA) on Tuesday called for joint action by all Asian and other ethnic minority organisations in Britain to oppose recent changes to immigration rules.

In a green paper, Home secretary Jacqui Smith last week announced sweeping changes, including a revised procedure for British citizenship. The changes will affect migrants from India and other non-European Union countries.

Harsev Bains, general secretary of IWA, told PTI that the changes amounted to racial discrimination and indirect taxation on migrants. He said the IWA called for a national campaign to coordinate a response by all Asian and other organisations.

"Smith believes it is perfectly acceptable for migrants to pay 5 years of taxes, council tax, National Insurance, VAT and Home Office fees whilst not possessing a British Passport and yet at the same time be denied the safety net of benefits that the taxes pay for," Bains said.

He added that the IWA believed that the green paper was further evidence of the new Labour's allegedly discriminatory policy and treatment of ethnic minorities, and called for widest mobilisation to oppose the changes.

Bains alleged that the Labour government was targeting migrants from the Commonwealth, South Asia and Africa as "scapegoats" in return for Britain's membership of the expanded European Union with open borders.

The IWA expressed support for the campaign by small business and restaurant owners threatened with closure due to shortage of chefs, classified as low skilled or failing to meet the English tests.

Founded in 1938, the IWA is one of Britain's oldest ethnic minority institutions, and has been in the forefront espousing the cause of migrant workers from India and elsewhere over the years.