UNISON to help lead union response to the racism report

The union will work with the TUC to address the discredited report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which downplays structural and institutional racism

anti-racism message being held by Black hand in Richmond, Yorkshire

UNISON is working with the TUC to lead the trade union response to the discredited report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.

The commission, which was chaired by Tony Sewell and set up by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in response to the Black Lives Matter protests, claims that the UK is no longer an institutionally racist country.

It said that issues around race and racism are “becoming less important” and, in some cases, are not a significant factor behind explaining disparities.

The commission has been widely criticised for ignoring well researched and evidenced submissions made to it – including that by UNISON.

UNISON’s evidence highlighted that racism remains a fact of life for many Black workers and that the pandemic had made this all the more apparent.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Over the past year, we have seen the stark reality of inequality and racism laid bare by the COVID pandemic.

“In UNISON, we have always known the brutal impact that racism plays in our society, but after the past year – with Black communities hit hardest by the pandemic – racial inequality in our society is clear for all to see. Many of us will have felt an urgent, moral call to action.

“So I was shocked – but unfortunately not surprised – by attempts to deny the reality of structural racism with the release of the Sewell report. Any argument that structural racism doesn’t exist denies the lived experiences of millions on our country, including many UNISON members.”

And Ms McAnea continued: “That’s why I will be writing to the prime minister, along with other trade union general secretaries, to express our deep concern at the Sewell report, and the need to tackle the all-too-real and incredibly damaging structural racism that blights our workplaces and our society.

“UNISON will never stop fighting racism – and we will continue to be guided by our members and their experiences. Equality is at the core of our union, and it always will be.”

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