After the toxic language used during the EU referendum campaign, resulting racist attacks on Black communities, refugees and those perceived to be of migrant backgrounds rose dramatically across the UK.
This alarming trend was highlighted at the TUC conference today (September 13) after Congress supported a motion to redouble its efforts in fighting the politics of hate.
Unite delegate who supported the motion, Abdul Rashid, knows all too well what this hate entails – he’s been the victim of such attacks himself.
“I work as a bus driver and soon after the [EU referendum] result I was told by someone getting on my bus to enjoy my job while it lasted – soon I would be ‘going home’,” Rashid told Congress.
“My home is Middlesbrough — always has been; always will be,” he asserted. “But the meaning of what that passenger meant was clear.”
Rashid argued that although racism has always existed, “the speed with which it has risen since the EU referendum is alarming.”
And the story he told of being told he was ‘going home’ is not the only incident he and his family and friends have endured.
“From having people refuse to get on the bus, to my friend’s four-year-old son being told by his friends that he can’t play with them anymore as he is a Muslim — I have many more stories.”
Rashid noted that because racism is a “daily issue” experienced by people in workplaces and communities across the UK, fighting racism must be a “core industrial trade union issue.”
“Migrant workers and black workers are active trade unionists – standing up for all workers,” he said. “Now is the time for us to stand together in solidarity not hatred.”
But fighting racist attacks will be doubly difficult, if, as Rashid pointed out, a further 25 per cent funding cut to the Equality and Human Rights Commission is successfully carried out by the government.
“This will reduce the total number of legal caseworkers who support victims of discrimination to just three,” he said. “We must oppose these cuts.
“I know that everyone in this room is united in that goal and committed to standing up against racism so please support this motion in this hall and when you leave – make sure that your workplace has a union equality rep,” Rashid added.
“If we as trade unionists are not leading the fight against racism in all its forms, we will never achieve equality and social justice.”
See Abdul Rashid’s speech here