'Groundbreaking' agreement in fight against racism

Employer signs Unite's Unity over Division charter to promote more tolerant workplace

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Unite’s Unity Over Division campaign has been given a big boost after an employer in Nottingham was the first to sign the anti-racism initiative’s charter.

Unite and the Nottingham Community Housing Association (NCHA) signed the groundbreaking Unity Over Division charter on Tuesday (June 16) which has committed them to working together to promote a more tolerant and inclusive place of work, with race equality at its heart.

Unity Over Division was launched by Unite in January last year in response to the rise of the far right in Britain and across Europe.

The Unite campaign is aimed at ensuring that the government’s vicious austerity policies are exposed and that progressive solutions are argued in every workplace where the union organises.

It’s also aimed at equipping Unite officers and activists with the counter arguments to challenge the far right’s narrative, including myths around immigration and migration in Britain, the welfare state, NHS, education and women’s rights.

NHCA, as the first signatory of Unite’s Unity Over Division workplace charter, pledges to implement a number of measures, including appointing an inclusion champion to lead on the Unity Over Division agenda; training all employees on how to adhere to the housing association’s diversity and equality policy; and providing information and material to promote equality and harmony in the workplace.

Unite believes employers must go beyond their own workplace in tackling division —  and so as part of the charter NHCA has also pledged to stand with Unite to condemn local and national examples of hate crime and discrimination; and to work with other agencies to promote cohesion, both inside and outside the workplace.

The groundbreaking signing of the charter comes amid protests over racist police brutality sweeping the UK and globally after the killing of George Floyd by police in the US last month.

This has sparked a national conversation about systemic racism in the UK and Unite through its Unity Over Division campaign aims to be part and parcel of this conversation.

Unite East Midlands regional secretary Paresh Patel welcomed the signing of the charter by NCHA and said he was proud that the first ever signatory was a major employer in his East Midlands region.

“This charter forms a solid basis to ensure that race equality remains at the heart of our industrial agenda and our work to stamp out racism,” he said.  “I am immensely proud that both Unite and NCHA are together, leading the way to strive for inclusivity and race equality proactively by signing up to the principals contained within this charter.

“I hope that the signing of this charter will shine out as a beacon for other employers to follow suit.”

Holly Dagnall, NCHA Director of Homes and Wellbeing commented, “We welcome this proactive approach to promoting a more inclusive place of work.

“As Chair of NCHA’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Panel, I am continuously looking for opportunities not only to support and improve our work to have a more equal and fairer workplace at NCHA, but to actively challenge racism and intolerance in all its forms in our communities,” she added. “I respect and support the work of Unite to challenge racial discrimination and intolerance.”

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner who leads the union’s anti-racism campaign work also welcomed the charter.

“This ground-breaking Unity over Division charter shows when employers and trade unions work together real change can be made,” he said. “I want to congratulate NCHA, our representatives and officers involved in this initiative.

“We know that racism and discrimination have no place in our workplaces. But too often the comments and actions of some, often in the guise of ‘banter’, cause hurt and upset to others. By committing to the charter, Unite and NCHA will challenge this culture head on in our joint efforts to bring about positive change a journey to make all our workplaces safe, dignified and respectful places to work for all, black or white.”

Hajera Blagg

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