Commission on Race and Ethics Disparities – Coventry City #UNISON Branch Committee – 13/04/21

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The Commission on Race and Ethics Disparities government report came out 31st March 2021 in response to the protests at the murder of George Floyd and the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The report covers health, education, crime and policing and employment and was chaired by Tony Sewell. 

It concludes, institutionalised and structural racism does not exist in the UK because things have moved on and improved–we are in [quote] “the era of participation” .

It recognises that racism does exist in various forms but there was no evidence that it is to blame. Sewell argues that inequalities are due to other factors such as, socio-economic, cultural, religious, family influence, geographical, individual responsibility and attitude – and that the root of disadvantages suffered by black communities is “broken families” and “father absence”.

The disproportionate number of deaths from Covid amongst Black communities/workers is largely due to low paid, high-risk jobs, most of which are public facing, on zero, part-time contracts and workers and their families living in over- crowded poorly maintained housing. We know that Black workers are stuck in these jobs and living conditions, unable to move on, because of institutionalised and structural racism. The report denies there is a direct link between over-crowded housing, the deaths of Black workers on the frontline during the pandemic, the Grenfell fire, the Windrush scandal and racial discrimination because, “outcomes such as these do not come by design, and are certainly not deliberately targeted”.

The report claims there is no evidence to suggest that Black communities suffering systematic racism has a negative effect on mental or physical health, on housing, employment, income or education because otherwise this would be reflected in overall mortality figures which in these communities is lower.

Sewell argues, we should not focus on race and racism because poverty and poor education because it also affects white people.

Academics, organisations named as contributors have claimed they were not contacted by the Commission, unaware and horrified to discover they were listed. Others have said they have been misinterpreted, it is based on outdated research and distanced themselves from the report.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/07/uk-public-health-expert-michael-marmot-criticises-no-10-race-report-shortcomings

Report introduction and recommendations 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-report-of-the-commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities/foreword-introduction-and-full-recommendations

STATEMENT – ROYAL WARWICKS CLUB, COVENTRY

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As people who live, work and socialise in Coventry, we stand for a city that is based on principles of peace, reconciliation and respect. We are proud of Coventry’s reputation as a city that welcomes all, regardless of religion, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation and disability.

We note that Britain First claim to be a ‘patriotic’ campaign group but in reality they are a splinter group from the BNP, with a track record of physical intimidation of Mosques during Prayer time. We are proud that our city does not have a reputation as a city where those who seek to divide us, such as the BNP, EDL and Britain First, are able to organise, terrorise and scapegoat. We are determined that this will continue to be the case. We defend the freedom of worship for those of all religions.

We therefore note, with major concern, that the Royal Warwicks Club, in Coventry City Centre has hosted a series of far right meetings in recent years and appears to have become a hub for fascist meetings and activity in the city.

We note that in August 2012 the Club was approached by representatives of local campaign groups and a local Councillor and agreed to sign a statement committing to equal opportunities and to no longer host meetings by far right organisations.

We note that in July 2014, the Club was visited by the President of Coventry Trade Union Council and was asked if they intended to host a planned meeting by Britain First on Friday July 18th. The Club Manager point blank denied this was the case.

We note that on July 18th, a small meeting was indeed held by Britain First at the Club and that photos of this meeting were published by Britain First on Facebook, confirming the venue. This confirmed that the Club had both breached their commitment of August 2012 and lied to Coventry Trade Union Council about their intentions.

We call on all Coventry people to refrain from attending the Royal Warwick Club and/or booking the premises for any social or business event. We call on all military charities to also refrain from association with this premises. We will work to ensure they are facilitated in alternative locations where they wish to deliver services or raise funds.

We call on the City Council to use its maximum powers to ensure the Royal Warwicks Club can no longer function as a hub for those who espouse racism and fascism to promote hatred and division in our city.

Signed by:
Darrall Cozens – President, Coventry Trades Union Council
Cllr Bally Singh – Chair of Communities and Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Board, Coventry City Council
Cllr Ram Lakha – Chair, Coventry against Racism
Tony Conway – Coventry against Racism
Jane Nellist – National Executive – National Union of Teachers
David Kersey – Unite against Fascism – Coventry
Sandra Durkin – Secretary of Coventry and Warwickshire People’s Assembly (personal capacity)

Sean Leahy – Chair of Coventry & Warwickshire Unite Local (WM6050) Branch

Clive Dixon – Love Music Hate Racism – Coventry

Steve Akers – Regional Organiser – Unison West Midlands
Email your name and any position to coventryunite@yahoo.co.uk  to add your name to this statement. Please indicate if you do not want your name to appear on public copies of the statement.
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