Cambridge & District Trades Council stands in solidarity with the family of George Floyd and all those protesting against his murder. We stand in opposition to the systematic racism that leads to such appalling crimes against black people in the US and far beyond. These protests have sparked an outpouring of solidarity actions across the world including the UK where we must now confront our own institutional racism and look for strategies to tackle this immense problem.
The current COVID pandemic has laid bare the systemic inequality Black and Ethnic Minority communities face including the disproportionately high fatility rates in our communities. Our job as trade unionists is to organise against poverty pay, lack of affordable housing and protection for our key workers in the NHS, social care and public transport of which our BAME brothers and sisters play large and leading role. The tragic death of Belly Mujinga, a railway ticket office worker at London Victoria highlights these inequalities. Key workers such as Belly have been left without necessary protection and no amount of clapping will make up for the lives lost. We echo the calls for an inquiry into BAME deaths during the pandemic.
On our own shores there have been 1741 deaths either in police custody or following police contact since 1990 with BAME people being 26 times more likely to be stopped and searched. The last time there was successful prosecuted for the death of somebody in custody was in 1969 over 50 years ago. The lack of accountability and justice has led to a break down of trust causing irreparable damage.
We must show more of our internationalism to support struggles abroad including those of black communities in the US. British trade unions underpinned the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the 1980s and by 1990 every major union was affiliated to the AAM. We must now reach out to US trade unions, community bail funds, mutual aid funds and racial justice organisers in the fight for equality.
The same collective effort must also be gathered to oppose our own Governments’ immigration proposals, which seek to clampdown on alleged ‘low skill’ immigration. Many of the these same ‘low skilled’ workers are being applauded weekly as absolutely vital for our society.
The proposed tying of Visas to employers is also open to rampant abuse and exploitation. An exploitation, which again would disproportionately targets BAME people and is another example of Top down systemic racism.
All workers, students, the retired, those unable to work and from all communities must unite and look to forge unity in the face of oppression. As trade unionists we have to implement strategies creating worker unity and organising against racial discrimination front and centre.We shouldn’t rely on outsourcing this work to 3rd parties, we should be working to encourage mass participation in education led by our BAME activists putting emphasis on recruiting BAME reps in our industries. We should be investing in long-term grassroots programs in music, sports and arts. We must bring trade unionism back into the heart of communities and act to build bridges between people and instill an ethos of respect and joint endeavours between cultures.
African-American trade union leader Philip Randolf who organised and led the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in the 1920s stated;
“Freedom is never granted; it is won. Justice is never given; it is exacted.”
No words ring truer today. We must all join together in a collective struggle for freedom and Justice.
Black lives Matter.