UKIP leader Nigel Farage has stoked up a firestorm after saying he would scrap laws that protect workers from discrimination.
Laws which protect workers from a range of discrimination by employers should be scrapped, UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said. His comments have been condemned by Unite as “dangerous and crude”.
If anti-discrimination laws were scrapped it would allow a hire and fire free for all. It could also pave the way for pay rates and employment rights based on race, gender, disability or sexual orientation.
Labour MP Sadiq Khan warned such moves would return Britain to the days when employers and landlords would display signs saying: “no blacks, no Irish, no dogs”.
Sulinder Singh, Unite’s acting national Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority officer said the response was simple: “No way Mr Farage.”
Farage’s comments come in the same week new figures showed young people from ethnic minority backgrounds unemployed for more than a year had seen a near 50 per cent rise since the 2010 general election.
Asked in a TV documentary which race and other anti-discrimination laws he would scrap, Farage replied: “Much of it. I think the employer should be much freer to make decisions on who he or she employs.”
Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, hit back saying Nigel Farage’s comments were“dangerous crude dog whistle politics” which displayed a “breathtaking ignorance about the Britain we live in today.”
Mr McCluskey warned that scrapping anti-discrimination laws “strikes at the heart of British values of tolerance and respect.”
Farage’s comments made no sense, he said. “If he genuinely wants to protect jobs, then his party ought to abandon its position of attacking hard-won rights for workers.
“His assertion that racism is no longer a problem in the UK employment market is naive. It conflicts with shocking figures from the House of Commons library showing the number of young people from ethnic minority backgrounds who have been jobless for more than a year has risen by a staggering 49 per cent since the Tory led government came to power.
“If he was truly concerned about the employment prospects for our young workers he would be talking about how we strengthen the weakest employment laws in Europe, create a society where everyone can fulfil their potential and be promoting tolerance and respect in the workplace.
“In stockbroker Nigel’s world, there would be no floor in our labour market, with worker pitted against worker and their unions prevented from stopping attacks on their jobs and wages.
“Rather than addressing the real problem of employers exploiting migrant workers to drive down wages Mr Farage would prefer to remove responsibility from employers.
“Working people need politicians that will act to halt any race to the bottom and create decent secure jobs, not indulge in the politics of fear and division.”
Sulinder Singh, Unite’s acting national Black and Ethnic Minority equality officer said race discrimination, “has no place in the workplace or society at large”.
Despite the existence of existing anti-discrimination laws “many employers often do not adopt appropriate safeguards to ensure understanding and application of anti-discrimination measures within their policies and procedures.”
Mr Singh warned that while discrimination was not new, it became more acute during economic downturns.
“Discrimination become’s progressively more acute during times of economic distress. People who are different are disproportionately scapegoated during an economic crisis they did not cause and made worse by the current Government.
“Scrapping anti-discrimination measures is dangerous and destructive in the long term. Without appropriate legal safeguards it is possible to create a working environment conducive to what would be effectively economic ethnic cleansing within the workplace.
“There is a simple response to the UKIP statements: No way Mr Farage!”