'Shoulder to shoulder'

Unite GS Len McCluskey: Unite stands in solidarity with protests in response to George Floyd's murder

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Unite stands in solidarity with all those protesting in response to the senseless murder of George Floyd, and the appalling racism both here and across the world.

The labour movement must be clear in its opposition to racism at all levels. Those of us who have a platform must speak out against yet another killing of a black man by the police. This abuse of power must end now. 

Anyone who has seen the video of George Floyd pleading for his life, will be horrified at the lack of basic humanity in the police responsible. But we must act against racism and discrimination in all its forms as well as condemning it.

Unite members stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers and sisters in America, who feel anger, frustration and hurt over the events of recent days. 

We in the UK must ensure we are alert to racism that exists in this country. Black people are much more likely to experience state aggression, such as police violence, discriminatory targeting, and recently a greater likelihood of being fined by the police for breaching lockdown rules. The Windrush scandal was a stark example of the discrimination and appalling treatment many black people face.

Since the Covid-19 crisis began, we have seen that BAEM people, who are over-represented in the low-paid and undervalued occupations that our society is now recognising as essential, face unequal exposure to the virus, and have died in vastly disproportionate numbers. 

Unite BAEM members have been alerting us to the terrible situation unfolding. The term ‘disproportionate’ must mean people, not just numbers. We must find out why this is happening and take every action possible. These harsh facts must not be forgotten as we emerge from the crisis. The ‘new normal’ must be anti-racist and must tackle the roots of inequality. Trade unions, including Unite, must be at the forefront of this fight. 

We are therefore looking at what further steps we can take to ensure the voices of BAEM members in Unite are heard and acted on, and to build on anti-racism within Unite and the wider movement. 

Unite will continue to stand up for all workers, and to speak out against all discrimination, injustice, and oppression, wherever it occurs. 

By Unite general secretary Len McCluskey

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