Opposing the far right and promoting community cohesion

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2008 National Delegate Conference
12 June 2008

Conference welcomes the development of a national policy on vulnerable workers; congratulates UNISON members and activists on the success of the ongoing campaign against the far right and notes the success of the ongoing campaign against the British National Party (BNP) over the past year. However, the growth and influence of the far right will continue to be a major challenge and a priority for UNISON.

The BNP are targeting the 2009 European elections when they expect to be able to join the fascist block in the European Parliament. Moreover, the conditions which have supported the upsurge in electoral support for the BNP and fostered opposition to migrant workers and asylum seekers, continue to exist.

The vote for the BNP grew from 3,000 votes in 2000, to over 292,000 in 2007. The conditions that led to an upsurge in support for the far right continue and mean growing disillusionment with existing political organisations.

These conditions include –

1)lack of access to affordable housing;

2)concerns about the provision and availability of public services;

3)economic insecurity;

4)a decline in democratic accountability;

5)government policy and the terms of the debate on race, immigration and migrant workers.

The situation is worsened by the nature of the press coverage and public debate, including comments by Government ministers on immigration and race.

Conference, therefore, agrees that UNISON should:

a)continue to prioritise the campaign against the BNP and the hate and division they promote

b)support migrant and vulnerable workers;

c)seek to build an ongoing sustainable campaign which challenges the far right wherever they appear and with a focus on the 2009 local government and Euro election campaigns and which challenges myths about migrant workers and asylum seekers, supports and organises migrant workers; and has a particular focus on young people.

Furthermore, Conference calls upon the National Executive Council to ensure that there is greater co-ordination of activities and resources between regions and national structures and to work with regions to develop a campaign strategy to meet these objectives and in particular to:

i)build and support broad based coalitions to oppose the far right in elections and to respond to local issues which the BNP increasingly seek to exploit;

ii) produce guidance for regions and branches to promote community cohesion including examples of good practice and how to influence local and regional policies;

iii)provide advice and support to vulnerable and migrant workers;

iv)Identify and work with organisations representing migrant workers; refugees and asylum seekers;

v)produce publicity and training materials to challenge myths about migrant workers and asylum seekers in workplaces, targeted at UNISON members and the wider workforce;

vi)provide training and support to equip UNISON reps and activists to challenge the ideas of the far right;

vii)promote cultural events as a means of engaging with young people.