UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Lilian takes on the fascists…

#TUC11 In the final debate of Monday, UNISON’s Lilian Macer slammed far right groups and underlined unions’ responsibility to challenge them. Lilian, the union’s Scottish Convener, seconded the Congress motion on the future of multiculturalism. “Where the far-right find scapegoats and manufacture hate, we work for a fairer world”, she said. “Where they target everyone who they think doesn’t belong, we bring people together – all people”. Her full speech is printed below:

“UNISON’s members are committed to providing quality public services that change people’s lives. Services that help people back into work, help give our children the best start in life and help care for our sick and elderly.

We ensure that our world class public services are there for everyone. And we rely on people of all different races, religion and backgrounds to deliver them.

That’s why the fight against racism, against prejudice, is a fight for our public services.

This is why we work so hard to challenge the fascists and the far-right. It’s a workplace issue for UNISON. Without our Black members and our migrant worker members, our public services would grind to a halt. The NHS, Congress, would collapse. There is no doubt services provided by local government will also be affected.

But the politics of demonising and scapegoating immigrants, Muslim people and other Black communities for the problems caused by ruthless employers and the financial crisis is not restricted to the far right. It has entered the mainstream.

We now have a Government that wants to narrow the tent – exclude certain people from our society and create a smaller Britain, a less tolerant Britain.

Amongst the many reckless policies introduced by this Tory-led government include attacks on migrant workers.

When they talk about ‘managed migration’ they mean dividing up people into good migrants and bad migrants. And it’s not done on the basis of what they are able to contribute.

Perhaps it is your neighbour or your work colleague who goes from being a human being to just being ‘illegal’ over night. But this process of dehumanisation touches us all.

This motion highlights the damage that both the words and actions that this Government have done to our society. Our members know that the fight for public services is a fight against the far-right. And our members and activists have worked throughout the year to challenge the BNP - and the English, Welsh and Scottish defence leagues.

The defence leagues have disfigured our city streets this past year. Intimidating and dividing communities in the crudest ways possible. Reviving some of the ugliest form of racist violence on our streets.
They want to show that our communities are in conflict with each other. The best response to them is to unite our communities and our workplaces against the far-right.

That’s why I ask you to support the campaign to ban the EDL/SDL and WDL from holding demonstrations and rallies in our streets.

I do want to take this moment to pay tribute to the work of Hope Not Hate. They have exemplified this approach, bringing together people of all different age groups and backgrounds to challenge the far right.
We are proud of what we have been able to accomplish together, showing that even in the most difficult of economic times we can drive back the far-right.

But it is only right that this motion places a responsibility on the trade union movement to challenge the far right.

Where the far-right find scapegoats and manufacture hate, we work for a fairer world.

Where they target everyone who they think doesn’t belong,

We bring people together – all people."