Unite, Britain’s biggest union, is calling on the government to mark this year’s Slavery Remembrance Day tomorrow (23 August) by committing to eliminate all forms of racism and hate crime through better education programmes in schools, stronger legislation and tougher penalties for perpetrators.
The transatlantic slave trade dehumanised millions of victims and its consequences can still be seen in acts of race discrimination in our workplaces and in society today.
The rise in hate crimes against black and Asian people in this country during and post-Brexit, the fall in police referrals to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) without any increase in the number of prosecutions, has made the call for stronger political action and leadership all the more urgent.
Unite further calls on the government to recognise the 23 August as the National Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition and that the regions and continents affected by the legacy of slavery, most notably Africa and the Caribbean, be compensated through aid, debt cancellation and other measures.
Harish Patel said: “We must never forget that we still live with the legacy of the transatlantic trade slave, as the post-Brexit rise in hate crime in this country has shown.
“The slave trade is a part of our history that must be condemned and never forgotten. Its legacy of continued race discrimination, pay and job segregation, has been the main cause of higher unemployment levels, the wider pay gap and the lack of progression for black and Asian workers.
“The government must commit to tackling all forms of race discrimination and hate, not with warm words, but with clear measures. As a priority, it must ask employers to put in place positive measures including consulting on, developing and implementing initiatives to improve career progression for black workers.
“We want to see positive measures to tackle structural racism caused by job segregation and casualisation in the labour market. To stop the ‘race to the bottom’ particularly in the low paid sectors, the government should ensure that there is better access for all workers to union representation and collective bargaining and restore sector level collective bargaining.
“This should also apply to employment agencies particularly those used by the public sector.
“We support the call for a national day of remembrance to commemorate the lives and deaths of millions of enslaved Africans and their descendants, and as a reminder that the fight against racism, hate and intolerance goes on.”
For more information please contact Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774 146 777.
Notes to editors:
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition is held on 23 August – the day on which an uprising of enslaved Africans began in 1791, on the island of Saint Domingue (modern Haiti and the Dominican Republic).
- This revolt was crucial in the fight against transatlantic slavery and UNESCO chose the date as a reminder that enslaved Africans were the main agents of their own liberation.
- Between the 15th and 19th Centuries, it is estimated that up to 12m Africans were forced onto European slave ships and taken across the Atlantic.
- Unite Statement on the International Day of Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition - http://www.unitetheunion.org/equalities/