TUC: unions must do more to tackle post-Brexit racism at work

EUUnions, employers and the government must redouble efforts to tackle the increase in racism following the vote to leave the EU, according to a new TUC report released today.

The UK has seen a major spike in reports of racist and xenophobic incidents since the referendum, with the National Police Chiefs’ Council reporting a 57% increase in hate crime in the days following the referendum.

This was on top of the Home Office observing an 18% increase in hate crimes in 2014/15, and charities reporting Islamophobic and anti-Semitic incidents more than doubling.

The TUC report Challenging racism after the EU referendum includes a set of immediate actions that government, employers and trade unions can take to challenge and defeat racist behaviour.

Proposals include closer monitoring of far-right activities, zero-tolerance policies in the workplace, and abolishing employment tribunal fees.

Alongside the report, the TUC is also publishing today a guide with information and practical advice for union reps on combatting racism in the workplace.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Despite progress reducing xenophobia and racism in Britain, we are a long way from eradicating it. And the recent surge in racist incidents since the Brexit vote is deeply disturbing.

“We need to stand up for modern British and trade union values – respect for difference, dignity at work, and a deep opposition to racism and extremism.

“Trade unions have long been a part of the fight against racism, but we can and should do more – as should the government and employers across the UK.”

The report has the following recommendations for government:

  • Adequately resource police and prosecutors to deal with hate crime.
  • More closely monitor and address far-right activity.
  • Retain existing equality legislation in any post-Brexit review of legislation and improve protections at work, such as from harassment by clients or customers.
  • Abolish fees for employment tribunals, so that victims of discrimination at work can seek justice.
  • Develop a cross-departmental action plan to deal with racism.

for employers:

  • Adopt and promote zero-tolerance anti-discrimination policies, such as Transport for London’s well-publicised policy of prosecuting those who abuse staff.
  • Have a system so that staff can report discrimination at work easily, and have confidence employers will take it seriously.
  • Work with unions to train and support staff.

and for unions:

  • Training for union reps on tackling discrimination at work.
  • Support BAME and migrant members to become more involved in branches.
  • Survey members to gauge attitudes and identify concerns.

Challenging racism after the EU referendum can be downloaded here.

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