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CRE: Unions should lead a new approach to supporting employees

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Workplace racism can only be rooted out if unions lead a new approach to supporting employees, said CRE Chair, Gurbux Singh.

In a speech given today at the TUC conference in Brighton, he offered a lasting partnership between the union movement and the CRE to create change in public, private sector and union organisations, but outlined the consequences of a failure to deliver racial equality.

He said: “We have bold new race legislation but how is this going to alter daily life for those people still being abused, bullied and demeaned by racial discrimination? That is a question none of us can shirk from addressing and the role of unions is now essential if dry legislation is to be translated into real equality.

“The role of union representatives is significant – they can either act sensitively and swiftly to protect employees, take their case further and achieve fair redress – or they can ignore racism and fail to act. The second is not an option.”

Mr Singh praised the TUC for initiatives already undertaken to improve support for employees suffering racial discrimination including a telephone hotline for employees to report racism, as well as the work of the Stephen Lawrence Task Force, set up to combat racial discrimination in the workplace as well as in the union movement.

He called for continued training to improve the skills and knowledge of union representatives supporting employees, and urged unions to take positive action to encourage greater participation in union activities by ethnic minority workers.

“The trade union movement must lead the way in racial equality practice and vigilantly combat racial discrimination,” said Mr Singh. “Then it will have both the strength and the credibility to ensure this is mirrored across both public and private sector organisations.”

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