Unity Over Division

West Brom trade union conference seeks Unity over Division on Wear Red Day

Over 200 activists from Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, will gather at West Bromwich Albion football club on Friday (18 October) on Wear Red Day, as part of the union’s Unity over Division campaign.

The conference will discuss ways to challenge the growing far right narrative of hate and division in our society, on the national day of action organised by the anti-racism educational charity Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC).

Unity over Division was launched by Unite in response to the rise of the far right in the UK, across Europe and in many parts of the world. It is aimed at equipping working people with the skills and knowledge to challenge the arguments of the far right and the casual racism that is becoming more prevalent in our workplaces and communities.

Police in the West Midlands have warned they are facing an increasing threat of right wing extremists in the region, while the far right English Defence League (EDL) has held three marches in the region, including in Worcester against a planning application for a mosque.

Wear Red Day encourages schools, businesses and individuals to wear something red and donate £1 to help fund the delivery of anti-racism education for young people and adults throughout England, Scotland and Wales. The charity says that for just £5, SRtRC can educate one child for a whole day.

Among the conference speakers will be Unite’s regional secretary in the West Midlands, Annmarie Kilcline, Unite regional chair Asif Mohammed, Women and Equalities officer Maureen Scott-Douglas and Unite assistant general secretaries Howard Beckett and Steve Turner.

Annmarie Kilcline said: “I’m incredibly proud that Unite in the West Midlands is hosting this important conference today. To bring so many of our shop stewards and activists together on Wear Red Day as part of our Unity over Division campaign in order to reach thousands of our members through our training and education programme and materials is vital if we are to stop the scapegoating of any group of people, which simply distracts from the real causes of problems in our workplaces and communities, and the real solutions to them.”

Howard Beckett, who leads on SRtRC for Unite, said: “I’m delighted that we’re holding this conference on Wear Red Day, which allows people throughout society to demonstrate their opposition to racism. The exemplary work that SRtRC undertakes by going into schools and using education to challenge racist views at an early age is perfectly complemented by the work my union is doing to challenge racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia, misogyny and all hatred of ‘difference’ in workplaces and wider communities. Unite has long called for anti-racism to be on the national curriculum. It is only by education that we can truly seek to rid the world of racism, discrimination and prejudice of all kinds.”

Steve Turner, who heads the Unity over Division campaign, said: “There is a dangerous and growing far right with an agenda beyond race and religious hatred. As trade unionists we have a responsibility and a duty to stand up to them on the streets, in our workplaces, in our homes, pubs and communities. Trade unions have always fought for and defended democracy and organised the fights necessary for us to achieve the rights and freedoms we now enjoy, and that is why today’s Unity over Division conference in West Bromwich is so central to our work, including equipping our activists in having those ‘difficult conversations’ in their workplaces to challenge the divisive agenda of the far right.”

ENDS

For more information journalists only please contact Jennie Walsh 07958 514695 Jennie.Walsh@unitetheunion.org

Notes to editors:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.
  • The 5th annual Wear Red Day takes place in England and Wales on Friday 18 October and in Scotland was held on Friday 4 October 2019. For details of how to get involved and to donate go to https://www.theredcard.org/wear-red-day
  • Unite has taken the lead among trade unions in working to counter the far right and the rise of populism. For more information go to https://unitetheunion.org/campaigns/unity-over-division/

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