Black Lives Matter

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UNISON is proud to support and to have, in a small way, assisted the Black Lives Matter movement here in Coventry. 

The horrific death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the reality of police brutality in both the US and UK and the continued hostility of some politicians, the far-right and sections of the media have demonstrated that the scourge of racism remains deeply engrained in our society and that a lot remains to be achieved. 

UNISON has supported, participated in, and spoken at the inspiring protests here Coventry. We stand in solidarity with them. We are keenly aware that black people have been disproportionately hit by COVID-19.

Locally we have witnessed the death of Darren Cumberbatch who died after police restrained him. As reported by the Coventry Telegraph ‘An inquest jury ruled last June that the actions of police officers – including baton strikes, other physical strikes, multiple punches, stamps, tasers, and handcuffs – were a contributing factor to his death’, yet only last week, a whole year later, did any review findings get released. 

We believe that there should be no complacency. It is great that Coventry City Council has made some strong statements in support of Black Lives Matter and that Council staff have been invited to include a positive statement on email signatures for example. Yet huge issues must be addressed. It is still too often the case that colleagues who are not white British origin end up in the lower-paid and/or temporary jobs, miss out on promotion, and are the first to be selected for redundancy or redeployment. This is institutional racism. It has not been resolved. It must stop. 

In our Trade Unions, too few non-white British origin people are stewards or officers, many do not join in the first place and many fundamental issues are yet to be addressed. This can and must change. In the US trade unionists organised solidarity with protests and built the mass campaign for Black Lives Matter. The fight against racism is a fight for every trade union activist and member, not a select few. 

Equality is a high priority in our negotiating and campaigning work. People have the right to be treated with dignity and respect at work, to do their job to the best of their ability, free from discrimination and harassment.

In these challenging times for all, we can take inspiration and hope from the growth of a new generation of anti-racist fighters who are now demanding action, not words or more enquiries.

As trade unionists, we also believe that a fight against racism will create more energy and enthusiasm for a fight against attempts to cut jobs and services to pay for the post COVID-19 economic crisis. Racism in our society comes from the top. Just look at the grim track record of Boris Johnson. Racism is engrained deeply in a history of rapacious greed by those who seek to govern us. We can unite to build solidarity between black and white people and build a better future for us all.

#BlacklivesMatter #JusticeforGeorgeFloyd

For more info on local campaigns visit Stand up to Racism Coventry on Facebook

SUTR Coventry Facebook

See the Coventry City UNISON statement on our website Statement

Coventry City UNISON statement – #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd

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Like millions of people around the world, we have looked on with revulsion and anger at the brutal racist murder of 46 year old George Floyd in Minneapolis, USA.

His last words of ‘I Can’t Breathe’ are not only heart-breaking but reminiscent of previous acts of murder and violence against black people in the US.

We condemn the actions of President Donald Trump in mobilising the National Guard against protestors and stand in defence of the democratic rights of ordinary Americans to protest peacefully and hold demonstrations. 

In this situation we send our solidarity and support to union members in the United States who are standing in solidarity with protestors and against police violence.

Minneapolis has a proud union and history and Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1005 representing bus drivers have refused to transport police officers to the demonstration in an act of incredible solidarity.

As one bus driver and trade unionist commented

“As a transit worker and union member I refuse to transport my class and radical youth to jail. An injury to one is an injury to all. The police murdered George Floyd and the protest against it is completely justified and should continue until their demands are met.”

Another example are tech workers at Facebook who have taken action against what they see as inaction by Mark Zuckerburg regarding inflammatory posts being published on the platform. 

Racism is an everyday reality for many Americans. There are have been already over 100,000 Covid-19 deaths in the US and over 40 million are claiming unemployment benefit. The scourge of racism, extreme exploitation and economic injustice go hand in hand in the richest country in the world.

There have already been protests here in the UK, and we stand in solidarity with them. BAME people have been disproportionately hit by Covid-19 and locally we have seen the death of Darren Cumberbatch who died after police restrained him. 

Coventry City UNISON are committed to showing solidarity against racism and all forms of division. 

Solidarity to protests around the world. An injury to one, is an injury to all. 

#JusticeforGeorgeFloyd