In light of recent protests that are taking place in the UK and across the world I wanted to write and tell you about the work we have been doing and plan to do to play our part in eliminating racism and discrimination from our workplaces, communities and society.
Racism is a trade union issue. Its effects are felt by working people inside and outside of the workplace; whether that is access to decent jobs and equal pay or the disproportionate deaths that Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities have suffered from coronavirus.
Following the publishing of the Public Health England report which confirmed that BAME workers are significantly more at risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19, I have written to our recognised employers, asking them to consult with workers identified as most at risk and take action to make workplaces safer for all. Community will continue to lobby Government to ensure that clear guidance is given to employers and authorities to undertake protective steps for at risk groups. It has taken far too long to put measures in place to avoid preventable deaths and we cannot continue to accept a situation where some groups suffer more than others.
I’ve been especially proud this year of the partnership we have developed with Baroness Doreen Lawrence OBE, mother of Stephen Lawrence, and the work we have begun to tackle racism in workplaces through the story and memory of Stephen Lawrence. We continue to support and work with Baroness Lawrence in her role as Race Relations Adviser to the Labour Party and were pleased to participate in her review of the impact of COVID19 on BAME workers this week.
Following a decision taken at our Biennial Delegate Conference 2019, we introduced antisemitism training into all equalities training for reps – the first trade union to do so and show leadership on this issue in the trade union movement.
But I know we need to do more too.
To understand how we can do better as a union and as an employer ourselves, we will undertake a listening exercise with our BAME members. But we won’t wait for the results of that consultation before we take action. As part of the work we have been doing under the union’s equalities strategy we will:
1. Put safety for BAME workers at the heart of our work with employers on COVID-19.
2. Adopt and promote a zero-tolerance approach to racism and discrimination within our union.
3. Provide new training for members and reps on tackling racism at work.
4. Take steps to increase representation and improve diversity across all of our structures.
I would also like to invite all Black, Asian and minority ethnic members to join me in a Zoom discussion session taking place on 23rd June at 1pm.
If you have anything to share with us, please get in touch.
Roy Rickhuss CBE
General Secretary, Community
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