THE TUC has pledged an all-out fight against the rise of racism as a result of the Tory government’s “hostile environment” policy.
Delegates agreed today to organise a conference of affiliates to plan a “trade union-based response” to the the threat of the far right.
Unison’s Davena Rankin highlighted the case of the union’s member Michael Braithwaite, who was “caught up in the nightmare” of the Windrush deportations “despite living here 50 years and having a legal right to live and work in this country.”
The Windrush generation had been invited to the country, Zita Holbourne of PCS noted. “Employers and the Department of Employment came to the Caribbean to recruit.
“But now No Dogs, No Irish signs have been replaced by Go Home or Face Arrest vans.”
UCU president Vicky Knight slammed the Conservatives for having lowered “the bar for racism and bigotry, naming former foreign secretary Boris Johnson as the guilty man.
“We had a foreign secretary who referred to black people as piccaninnies, who compares Muslim women to letterboxes and robbers.
“The result is that women have hijabs ripped off and pigs’ heads are left outside mosques.”
A packed Stand Up to Racism fringe meeting the previous night saw anti-racism activists raise the alert to “the biggest mobilisation of the far right in our lifetimes — beyond our lifetimes,” in the words of National Education Union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney.
Unison assistant general secretary Roger McKenzie said: “I haven’t had these feelings since I was a little kid.
“When I go round to some workplaces, people are saying to black nurses ‘don’t touch me.’ Our generation went through this years ago and it’s back.”
And Unite’s Steve Turner said the movement must go into communities and fight racism at the roots.
“We need to stop talking to ourselves and start talking to people who are drawn to these organisations,” he said, noting that, in regions broken by years of Tory austerity, “people have fears about belonging.
“We need to give people the confidence to stand up, to dispel the myths, to argue the alternative.”
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