Humanitarian aid to refugees in Calais

In my role as co-founder and National Chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK, I have been co-ordinating regular solidarity and humanitarian aid distributions including convoys since 2015 to people who are refugees in Northern France together with NEC member Hector Wesley who is also a BARAC officer. We specialise in addressing cultural and religious needs and also focus on urgent emergency supplies which change all the time.

We work closely with three charities in France, L’auberge des Migrants, Refugee Community Kitchen and Help Refugees.

We organise fundraising initiatives in order to purchase food, clothes, camping equipment, toiletries, blankets and other emergency supplies and essential items and we are grateful to PCS and TUC Race Relations Committee in supporting us in this work and to PCS members who have purchased tickets for our Black Members Social at ADC in 2018 and 2019, the proceeds of which went to our aid work.

There is still a great need for support as people are living on the roadside in places like Calais and Dunkirk, without shelter or access to adequate regular water and sanitation. The winter months are of course the worst having to survive outside.

Those who find themselves stranded in France are mostly trying to be reunited with family, friends and community in the UK. The vast majority of people are young men including children in their teens who are alone without parents or other adult family members and should be protected as children. They are people who are fleeing persecution, poverty, conflict and climate change, sometimes a combination.

Here are some key ways to help support our humanitarian aid and solidarity work with refugees in France:
1. Donate to the BARAC UK Humanitarian Appeal by visiting the GoFundMe page here: Alternatively send a cheque made payable to ‘BARAC
UK’ with the form below to: Zita Holbourne, BARAC National Chair, PCS National Vice
President, PCS HQ, 160 Falcon Road, London, SW11 2LN.
2. Drop off essential items to our distribution point at PCS HQ. Please address items (see list of items needed below) to: Zita Holbourne, PCS NEC, C/O Harvey Jacob (for Calais), PCS HQ, 160 Falcon Road, London, SW11 2LN.
3. Sponsor transport & travel.
4. Join a BARAC distribution by bringing a vehicle full of aid.
5. Organise a fundraising initiative in your branch or group.

Contact Zita Holbourne, BARAC Co Chair by email: or

Zita Holbourne, National Vice President PCS


Zita is standing as Vice President for the Democracy Alliance 2020

January 2020, a New Year, a new round of weekly strikes in our Campaign to Save Ealing Tax office

What a journey it has been !
By the end of this week (31st Jan 2020)  we will have been on strike for 10 days since early 2019. None of our action would  have been possible without the unshakable solidarity and bravery of the Ealing Strikers who chose to stand up to the vicious office closures imposed on them .
We want to save our jobs and we are worth it.  In the Debt management teams some of the poorest paid in the Civil Service barely earning above minimal wage, 68% of the workers face redundancy and unemployment. This is replicated across all the teams in International House marking the end of the road for many of us including myself.
As a carer I cannot regularly make the 4 hour round trip to our new office in Stratford – many members like me have overwhelming personal circumstances, disabilities or simply a desire to have a daily work – life balance.
We have been betrayed by our employer.
In 2005 we had 596 offices up and down the UK, less than 2% will remain at the end of the HMRC Building our Future office closure program. As shocking as the personal betrayal of loyal workers, is the fact that HMRC is ignoring the tax risk of leaving North West London. Fraudsters and tax evaders must be rubbing their hands in glee as we exit the area. Within a few months, 4000 years of tax expertise and training will be thrown away when we lose our jobs.
Whatever the outcome of action, Ealing PCS members can feel very proud that we made a stand. We beat a union busting 50% ballot threshold twice and our picket lines and rallies are legendary. Spirits are high as we enter our 3 days of action. We remain strong in our dispute despite the clock ticking down on the closure of International House Ealing.
Please support our fight by spreading the word, organising bucket collections to support the strikers, by following us on social media #saveealingtaxoffice and inviting us to speak at your AGM’s .
Lydia Ndoinjeh PCS R&C London North Branch Chair

No to War in Iran

On Saturday thousands of people marched around the country in protest at Trump’ attack on Iran and the threat of war.

PCS members participated in a number of events.

PCS President Fran Heathcote spoke at the protest in Newcastle. She said:

“I am bringing solidarity greetings from my union, PCS

I want to take a minute to thanks Tony and the organisers, thank them on behalf of trade unions for their dedication and for organising this and so many other successful events in the north east at short notice (most of them have a day job as well, sterling effort)

The assassination of Iranian general Quassem Soleimani on 3 January was a reckless, irresponsible and probably illegal act…….

It is part of a dangerous macho game played by Donald Trump and his followers, much more about macho posturing and prestige than genuine defensive action

And was also designed to garner patriotic support for his Presidency and direct attention away from his own impeachment

There is no evidence as Donald Trump suggests that Soleimani and Iran were planning an attack on the United States,  or on.four US embassies, including the one in Baghdad.

His justification for the attack has alarming similarities to the arguments used to justify war in Iraq – Saddam Hussain’s so-called weapons of mass destruction – that turned out to be a lie and led to a conflict which claimed the lives of over a million Iraqis, thousands of US and UK troops and fed the growth of the Islamic State

President Trump appears to be acting unilaterally in escalating tension in the middle east, with little consultation with his own government or western so-called allies

Importantly, there was no consultation prior to the assassination on 3 January with his new key ally Boris Johnson, which tells you all you need to know about the ongoing partnership between Britain and the United States after Brexit

All the attack has succeeded in doing is uniting millions in Iraq and Iran against the US and it’s allies

Comrades, I believe that trade unionists and the labour movement have a responsibility to oppose any further imperialist interventions in the Middle East

There has never been any evidence that war does anything other than destabilise the region

Making it more dangerous for millions of innocent children, men and women who pay for these war games with their lives

We must re-state our opposition to western intervention in Iran and the Middle East, and call for an end to US aggression and a de-escalation of the threat of further war

We must continue to put pressure on our own government, with rallies like this up and down the country, to state clearly that there will be no support from the UK for any further irresponsible acts of war in Iran, in Iraq or elsewhere

Once again, solidarity to all involved today.”

Austin Harney spoke for the NEC at the London demonstration:

“On behalf of PCS, I would like to send greetings of solidarity to all the people of Iran and to condemn the US threat of military invasion on one of the most important countries in the Middle East.

Recently, last year, PCS has, always, supported the Trade Union strikes for better wages and the women’s struggle for liberation in Iran. We will continue to support the Iranian people’s efforts for a better way of life in Iran under their current government.

But we will not tolerate the American government’s intention to interfere in Iran and impose their perception of “regime change” under Donald Trump! Previously, the United States adopted this policy of “regime change” under George W. Bush on the people of Iraq and plunged this country into turmoil.

By continuing to rise up on the streets with demonstrations, we will not allow the United States to impose “regime change” on the people of Iran! Previously, millions of us demonstrated on the streets in Britain and America, and we were pivotal in pressuring the American government to withdraw its troops from Vietnam in 1973!

Let us continue to organise these demonstrations and force the United States to pull out of the Middle East, once and for all! Solidarity!”