Trade unions – bringing people together

Published date
I’ve written previously about the impact of coronavirus on the BME community, anti-Semitism, and anti-Chinese racism. This week I’m looking at something a lot more positive – the role of trade unions in tackling the far-right.

As trade unionists we seek to unite people, reminding ourselves that there is more that unites us than divides us. The far right, however, seek to divide us so that they can undermine and attack our hard-fought for rights.

Raising awareness and preparing conversations

In this febrile atmosphere we have an important role to play to heal our communities and workplaces. We believe that the true nature of our nation is the number of people volunteering to help others, the outpouring of national support for the NHS, and the support we’ve given our neighbours in isolation.

We believe that the far-right don’t speak for us.

We have a fundamental role to play in tackling racism and fighting for equality and justice. The TUC has produced online training to help union members identify and tackle extremism. Our ‘Tackling the far right’ eNote explains who the far-right are. It provides practical campaign tips including an opportunity to practice answering difficult questions.

Most people sharing far-right posts online aren’t hardcore fascists. As trade unionists we need to counter these opinions without alienating our friends and colleagues, driving them further into the arms of the far right.

Watch our short video on how to have ‘challenging conversations’ with colleagues, friends and family members. 

But we’re also listening to friends and allies. We recently held an online event called ‘Building Back Better – making the economy work for BME communities’ which you can watch online.

Our ‘BME workers in Wales and Covid-19’ page provides advice and support to BME workers, as well as useful information. But we always need more information on what is happening in Welsh workplaces. 

We’re running a survey to find out the impact of race on BME people’s experience of the workplace. This will help us understand what support you need. It will also provide much-needed evidence for Welsh Government. Help us by completing the survey and letting us know your experiences.

To the future – and not being afraid to confront our own history

We’ll soon be releasing our new eNote focussing on anti-Semitism. This is a form of racism that is found across the political spectrum. As trade unionists, we’ve had to face up to some uncomfortable aspects of our own history when it comes to racism, including anti-Semitism. Our new eNote doesn’t run away from this history, but confronts it head on.

Across the UK we’re engaging with politicians and other stakeholders to stand up for all our members. We’re calling on the UK and Welsh Governments to publicly condemn acts of intimidation, harassment or bullying by word or actions. We call on politicians across the UK to take all reasonable steps to secure the protection of employees from intimidation, harassment or bullying in the workplace.

We need to make our workplaces (and society) fairer, safer, and more equal for all communities. Together, we can unite workers and fight against attempts to divide and undermine us.