“It is not a housing crisis, it is an economic project to which we do not belong – we, the low-income workers, social welfare recipients, single people, single parents, the elderly, those with a disability, LGBTQIA+, ethnic minorities such as the Irish Travellers*, migrants and refugees.”
We condemn all racism and stand in solidarity with migrants and racialised people
We have seen first hand in our local branches that daily verbal attacks against migrant members have increased, especially as these members engage in CATU door-knocking/activities. Migrants living in emergency accommodation have been forced to stay in their small hotel rooms for their safety when there are angry crowds gathering outside. Currently all migrants, ethnic minorities and racialised people, whether members of CATU or not, face even graver risk than before from the far right in Ireland. We prioritise the safety of our communities and do not tolerate putting the blame on those who are most vulnerable.
CATU must be Anti-Racist.
Anti-Racism must be more than solidarity statements and words. We are committed to ensuring that racialised and migrant members who door-knock or take part in other union activities are not left on their own, at risk of right-wing attacks. We do not tolerate racism, and open our branch meetings with a statement affirming this. We understand that the unsafe environment the far right has created for racialised people and migrants means that taking part in public-facing union activities is too risky for many. There is no expectation of CATU members to take part in anything public-facing. We are committed to fighting for an Ireland where all threats against racialised and migrant members (and non-members) are eliminated. As we fight this battle we are committed to working on the ground to combat far-right narratives and irrational hate and fear around migration. Irish people have a long history of emigrating, and from that collective history we should learn solidarity with people of all nations or none. The protection of and immediate safety of our migrant and racialised members is central to CATU values. We are committed to embedding anti-racism into all of our organising.
Migrants are disproportionately affected by evictions and have a ‘higher risk of overcrowding and homelessness than Irish-born’ Migrants are the majority of renters in Ireland. Approximately 80% of Irish people own their own homes but only 34% of migrants do. At a conservative estimate, half of CATU member defence cases are fought by migrant members. Fighting for tenant power often attracts retaliation from the landlords. These migrant members lead the way in showing strength and courage in fighting against bad housing conditions and abusive landlords. Given the issues many migrants face between expensive visas, precarious jobs, language barriers, and outright racism this is even more admirable. Landlords often try to take advantage of people’s visa or residency status or unfamiliarity with legislation so it’s important that migrant tenants are supported and organised in the union.
What CATU organises around: Who should our justified anger really be targeting?
The real cause of the horrific housing situation on this island are the policies of the successive governments that have been in power. Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, (& Progressive Democrats, Labour & Greens) have created a housing system in which homelessness is normalised and profitable. After the bank bailout in 2008, very few new social houses were built. Instead, tenants on the public housing waiting list have been forced into the private market. The State created HAP, a private rental subsidy paid to landlords, which cost €542 million in 2021. Worse again, the government enlisted the help of multi-billion euro hedge funds by offering generous tax breaks and creating the REITs legislation. REITs are institutional investment companies that were allowed to buy up large portfolios of homes often at a discount, and are today huge Corporate Landlords. They now have a monopoly of power which they use to charge higher rents due to their spatial concentration and to treat people’s homes as financial assets, neglecting maintenance and making living conditions worse. It doesn’t matter where you are from, landlords in Ireland are allowed to charge you some of the highest rents in Europe. CATU organises against the real target deserving of our collective anger. No more divisive narratives! We reject an ‘us vs them’ narrative which only helps the government to do nothing to improve our lives, and continue to create policies that damage all the working class.
The far right players and politicians work in their own interests and not for the well-being of working class communities. Racist protests, if successful, will only lead to more deportations which CATU strongly condemns. Our fight is for an Ireland that welcomes and houses ALL people.
We need Unity
Our struggle is shared. CATU members are committed to anti-racism within the union because of a shared interest in a better world, a world where everyone is safe and every empty home is filled with somebody who needs it. We understand that if you are struggling to make a living and Irish you have legitimate anger and pain. We also understand that if you are struggling to make a living and not Irish, or part of another minority group, you have many of the same type of problems, along with several other problems to deal with, which are made much worse by the increasing threat to your safety. As a union we condemn the blaming of migrants. This practice takes us backwards rather than forwards. We need to blame those who are truly guilty in this situation, the government, the banks and investment funds, and the landlord class. We need to use our power as a union to fight for housing for everybody.It is not a housing crisis, it is an economic project to which we do not belong – we, LGBTQIA+, pensioners, gig-workers, those on social welfare, single people, Irish Travellers, single parents, those with a disability & migrants and refugees.
When people in our communities wrongly blame migrants and refugees for the housing crisis, they allow those responsible to escape consequences . Meanwhile the root cause – racial capitalism – is left untouched. CATU condemns this and stands in solidarity with all people targeted by misplaced and unjustified hatred.