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Trade unionists are taking the fight against racism into the workplaces

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The Stand Up To Racism trade union conference is a chance to organise against racism, writes Eleanor Claxton-Mayer
Issue 2537
Gloria Mills from the TUC general council speaking at the Stand Up To Racism conference last year
Gloria Mills from the TUC general council speaking at the Stand Up To Racism conference last year (Pic: Geoff Dexter)

Trade unionists are building for the Stand Up To Racism trade union conference on Saturday

4 February. It will place trade unions at the forefront of the fight against racism.

The Tories and right wing press are ramping up racist rhetoric to blame migrants for attacks on worker’s pay and conditions, public services being cut and privatisation.

The conference on 4 February in London is for all trade unionists who believe in fighting racism and challenging racist attacks on workers.

Jim Board, a Unison union member from Doncaster, has been building support for the conference in his union.

“People are recognising the threat of racist populism and the gains made in Europe by the racists,” he said. “It is much more present in people’s minds.”

As the Tories are refusing to guarantee European Union (EU) migrants’ rights, one of the conference’s focuses will be fighting to defend them.

Workshops on defending the free movement of labour and challenging racism in the workplace are set to take place as part of the day.

Speakers include NUT teachers’ union general secretary Kevin Courtney and Susan Matthews from the Unite union.

Pete Edwards, a PCS union rep from Cardiff, said that many unions in his area have funded delegates to travel to the conference.


“Migration is a debate in unions at the moment,” he said. “This conference is vital to bolster the defence of free movement.”

The conference will seek to arm trade unionists with anti-racist arguments for their workplace.

Liz Wheatley from Unison in Camden in north London told Socialist Worker, “Working in the public sector means there are arguments about what causes cuts.

“It is important not to let racism divide us.”

The conference will discuss building the national Stand Up To Racism demonstrations on 18 March in London, Glasgow and Cardiff.

These demonstrations, backed by the TUC, are a crucial part of building an anti-racist movement on the streets and in the unions. To fight the bosses over pay cuts and austerity it is essential to challenge racism.

The recent attempts to force people to show passports in hospitals to use the NHS is an attempt to blame migrants for the cuts to the health service.

These racist ideas must be defeated to take on the real issue of funding cuts in the NHS.

The anti-racist movement is growing within workplaces, universities and in local campaigns. The conference is an important step in the fight for worker’s rights and against racism.

All trade unionists should attend the conference and be a part of the fight against racism.

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