UNISON calls on government to act on ‘systemic racism’

Statement from the union calls for action as COVID-19 highlights inequality

UNISON is calling on the UK government to take action on the “systemic structural racism” that has been exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A statement from general secretary Dave Prentis, which also comes against the background of global Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by police in the US, specifically calls on the government to:

  • implement the recommendations from the Windrush Lessons Learned review by Wendy Williams from March this year;
  • implement the Lammy Review of the criminal justice system from 2017;
  • bring into force in England section 1 of the Equality Act 2010, the Public Sector Socio-Economic duty, which is already enacted in Scotland and Wales;
  • act on Theresa May’s comprehensive Race Disparity Audit, which was published in 2017.

“The devastating COVID death toll has exposed inequality and racism across work and wider society,” said Mr Prentis. “We will continue to fight for safe workplaces using all our means.

“The UK government response has been slow and inadequate, and we do not need more reviews and commissions. Government action is needed today to protect Black workers and communities.

“This union says loud and clear that Black Lives Matter,” he added.

“We are prepared to be judged on our actions. We demand our governments do the same.”

Kebba Manneh, the chair of the union’s national Black members’ committee, said: “Systematic institutional and structural racism is pandemic in workplaces, communities, society across UK, including all the devolved nations.

“Just as in all pandemics, we must find a cure.

“UNISON’s national Black members committee will be outlining some strategies to achieve this at our planned webinar session to be held in late June or early July.”