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5 migrants die while crossing the English Channel hours after the UK approved a deportation bill

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5 migrants die while crossing the English Channel hours after the UK approved a deportation bill
News

News

5 migrants die while crossing the English Channel hours after the UK approved a deportation bill

2024-04-23 21:28 Last Updated At:21:30

PARIS (AP) — Five people, including a child, died while trying to cross the English Channel from France to the U.K., French authorities said Tuesday, just hours after the British government approved a migrant bill to deport some of those who entered the country illegally to Rwanda.

The prefecture responsible for the north of France said in a statement authorities spotted several boats packed with migrants off the coast of Pas-de-Calais, attempting to depart in the early morning.

Several French navy ships, including assistance and rescue tug Abeille Normandie, intervened to rescue “a very overcrowded boat carrying more than one hundred people on board,” the statement emailed to The Associated Press said.

“They rescued several people, but unfortunately, five people have died,” it said.

The regional prefect Jacques Billant said a woman, three men and a 7-year-old girl died. He said the boat carrying 112 people attempted to sail off the beach in Wimereux.

The Voix du Nord, a regional newspaper, said the bodies were discovered at the beach on Tuesday morning. About 100 migrants were rescued and placed aboard a French navy ship. They will be taken to the port of Boulogne, the paper said.

It came hours after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s latest effort to send some migrants to Rwanda finally won approval from Parliament. The U.K. government plans to deport some of those who enter the country illegally as a deterrent to migrants who risk their lives in leaky, inflatable boats in hopes that they will be able to claim asylum once they reach Britain.

Human rights groups have described the legislation as inhumane and cruel. Both the United Nations refugee agency and the Council of Europe called on the U.K. Tuesday to rethink its plans for fears they could damage international cooperation on tackling the global migrant crisis.

Migrants trying to cross the busy English Channel face drownings and sinking among other deadly incidents, often aboard crowded boats.

An estimated 30,000 people made the crossing in 2023, according to U.K. government figures.

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by the Border Force following a small boat incident in the Channel, on Tuesday April 23, 2024. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said "nothing will stand in our way" of getting flights to Rwanda off the ground, as the Government braced itself for legal challenges to the scheme to send asylum seekers to the east African country. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by the Border Force following a small boat incident in the Channel, on Tuesday April 23, 2024. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said "nothing will stand in our way" of getting flights to Rwanda off the ground, as the Government braced itself for legal challenges to the scheme to send asylum seekers to the east African country. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by the Border Force following a small boat incident in the Channel, on Tuesday April 23, 2024. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said "nothing will stand in our way" of getting flights to Rwanda off the ground, as the Government braced itself for legal challenges to the scheme to send asylum seekers to the east African country. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by the Border Force following a small boat incident in the Channel, on Tuesday April 23, 2024. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said "nothing will stand in our way" of getting flights to Rwanda off the ground, as the Government braced itself for legal challenges to the scheme to send asylum seekers to the east African country. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by the Border Force following a small boat incident in the Channel, on Tuesday April 23, 2024. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said "nothing will stand in our way" of getting flights to Rwanda off the ground, as the Government braced itself for legal challenges to the scheme to send asylum seekers to the east African country. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)

A group of people thought to be migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent, by the Border Force following a small boat incident in the Channel, on Tuesday April 23, 2024. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said "nothing will stand in our way" of getting flights to Rwanda off the ground, as the Government braced itself for legal challenges to the scheme to send asylum seekers to the east African country. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during a press conference at Downing Street in London, Monday, April 22, 2024. Sunak pledged Monday that the country’s first deportation flights to Rwanda could leave in 10-12 weeks as he promised to end the Parliamentary deadlock over a key policy promise before an election expected later this year. (Toby Melville/Pool Photo via AP)

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during a press conference at Downing Street in London, Monday, April 22, 2024. Sunak pledged Monday that the country’s first deportation flights to Rwanda could leave in 10-12 weeks as he promised to end the Parliamentary deadlock over a key policy promise before an election expected later this year. (Toby Melville/Pool Photo via AP)

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Workers at Georgia school bus maker Blue Bird approve their first union contract

2024-05-25 00:36 Last Updated At:00:40

FORT VALLEY, Ga. (AP) — A year after they voted to unionize, workers at a Georgia school bus manufacturer have approved their first contract.

The United Steelworkers union and Blue Bird Corp. said union members at Blue Bird's assembly plants and warehouse in Fort Valley have voted to approve a three-year contract between the company and the union.

The union said the contract will provide all 1,500 covered workers with at least a 12% raise, with some of the lowest-paid workers getting raises of more than 40%. The union says the company will contribute to a retirement plan for workers, share profits, and improve health and safety.

The negotiations had been closely watched by President Joe Biden's administration, in part because Blue Bird has gotten $40 million in federal aid to build electric school buses.

Biden released a statement Thursday saying acting Labor Secretary Julie Su had helped bring the negotiations to a successful agreement. Contract talks after a first union vote are often difficult.

“Congratulations to members of the United Steelworkers and to Blue Bird for proving once again that meeting our clean energy goals is an opportunity to create good-paying union jobs for American workers,” Biden said.

Blue Bird is one of three major school bus manufacturers in the United States, along with Thomas Built Buses, a subsidiary of Daimler Truck AG, and IC Bus, a unit of Navistar International.

Blue Bird had urged employees to reject unionization last year, but CEO Phil Horlock said in a statement Friday that contract talks had been “very collaborative” and that the company is “looking forward to a strong partnership with our USW team members.” The company said higher pay, benefits and opportunities for career development will help Blue Bird attract workers.

“We reached an agreement which provides positive outcomes for all parties involved and will continue to drive our One Team, high-performance culture,” Horlock said. “We are confident that the agreement will further bolster Blue Bird’s position as an employer of choice in the region."

Blue Bird is a publicly held company based in Macon. With about 2,000 employees overall, it has long been the largest private employer in Peach County.

The vote for the USW was a notable win for organized labor in the traditionally unfriendly Deep South.

“Federal investments like these must come with a seat at the table for workers,” United Steelworkers District 9 Director Dan Flippo said in a statement. “Our union has a long history in the South fighting for better wages and working conditions in a variety of industries, but for too long, corporations and their political cronies have tried to characterize the South as a place where they could run away from unions, cut corners and pay workers less."

The share of workers who are unionized nationwide has been falling for decades, dipping to 10% last year, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. And private sector workers are much less likely to be union members, with only 6% paying dues.

Organized labor is an even smaller sliver of Georgia workers, with only 4.4% of workers being union members. The state's business leaders have long been hostile to unions, with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp this year pushing through a law that would bar companies taking state incentives from recognizing unions without a formal secret-ballot election.

FILE -- An all-electric school bus sits on display in front of the Blue Bird Corp. factory in Fort Valley, Ga., on Feb. 8, 2023. The company and the United Steelworkers union said on Thursday, May, 23, 2024 that workers had approved an initial three-year contract after voting to unionize in May 2023. (Matthew Pearson/WABE via AP, file)

FILE -- An all-electric school bus sits on display in front of the Blue Bird Corp. factory in Fort Valley, Ga., on Feb. 8, 2023. The company and the United Steelworkers union said on Thursday, May, 23, 2024 that workers had approved an initial three-year contract after voting to unionize in May 2023. (Matthew Pearson/WABE via AP, file)

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