Stand Up to Racism Trade Union conference 2018 report

Packed final plenary stands up to racism!

You can watch videos from the plenaries and some of the workshops here

Over 350 people attended the Stand Up to Racism Trade Union Conference on Saturday 10 February. The event was supported by: the TUC, Unison, Unite, Aslef, BFAWU, CWU, FBU, NEU (NUT section), PCS, UCU, South East Region TUC and Midlands region TUC.

SUTR’s trade union conference was launched in 2017 with the aim of taking the general aims of Stand Up to Racism deeper into the trade unions and the workplace. Organisers of this year’s conference were pleased that it enjoyed a substantially bigger turnout.

The timetable for the day saw eight different workshops taking place on the following subjects (workshop reports to follow):

  • “NHS for all! Challenging migrant charges and the myths of “health tourism”
  • Educating against hate: anti-racism in our schools and colleges
  • Who are the Football Lads Alliance? A briefing for trade unionists
  • Organising migrant workers in modern Britain
  • The free movement of labour: tackling the myths about migration
  • Fighting Islamophobia and institutional racism in the workplace and beyond
  • How trade unionists can build solidarity with refugees
  • Fighting fascism in Britain and Europe today (Hosted by Unite Against Fascism)

You can read the full timetable for the day here

An SUTR “Trade Union activist diary” produced for the conference is available here

A film of the first plenary is available here:

Unison Assistant General Secretary, Roger McKenzie

Speaking at the plenary session: ‘Fighting racism – building unions’, Unison assistant general secretary, Roger McKenzie told the conference “Stand up to Racism has to go from a slogan to a way of life.” He also railed against plans to put up a blue plaque to Enoch Powell in Walsall, saying “We need blue plaques to the victims of racism, not racists like Powell.”

Speaking in the “Educating against hate” workshop, Islington Labour councillor, Rakhia Ismail said, “We have a fight on to defend the right of Muslim women to wear the hijab. I for one, am up for the struggle”.

Claire Moseley from Care for Calais gave a full update on the current situation of refugees in Calais in the session on “How trade unionists can build solidarity with refugees”.

Claude Moraes, Labour MEP drew attention to the alarming growth of fascism in mainstream politics in Italy, Poland and Hungary.

Packed workshop: “Who are the Football Lads Alliance? A briefing for Trade Unionists”

Alex Kenny from the NEU (NUT section) executive spoke of the importance of Stand Up to Racism in the plenary ’Mobilising for the 17 March day of international protests’. He said, “Our Executive has agreed to give a further £58,000 to Stand Up to Racism—we’re very proud to be hosting this conference today.”

The last speaker of the day was Wilf Sullivan, TUC Race Equality Officer, he said “Trade unionism isn’t just about what happens day to day in the workplace it’s about who has power and how they use it.”

In a rallying call for the international day of action he said “We need to be out on 17 March, we’re not just marching against racism but for justice. It’s about power to the people.”

One of the key focuses coming out of the conference on Saturday was a commitment to getting out and using the broad support for 17 March across the trade union movement to build the demonstrations in workplaces across the country.

Demonstrations will take place in London, Glasgow and Cardiff.

On the Sunday following the conference a delegation of over 100 people took solidarity to refugees in Calais. (Report to follow)

Stand Up to Racism would like to thank NEU (NUT section) for hosting the conference at its Hamilton House headquarters. We would like to thank all the unions who supported the event (listed above) and the TUC, in particular TUC Race Equality Officer, Wilf Sullivan for all his help.