Friday, June 24, 2016

UNISON's response to the Referendum result - resist racism - defend Corbyn

Below I reproduce the statement issued promptly by UNISON in response to the result of the EU referendum (which is an all but unmitigated disaster for the working class).

Dave Prentis has elaborated upon this statement in addressing UNISON National Delegate Conference this morning, acknowledging that the referendum result was not what UNISON had campaigned for and that many of our members will have voted to leave.

Living and working in areas which returned large majorities for remain your blogger need not be constrained to be polite about those who voted (and particularly not those who campaigned) to give Farage the best day of his life.

Those who voted to leave voted against the interests of our members and our class, and we have awoken this morning in a country in which the forces of reaction are encouraged and empowered and in which we now know that racism and intolerance will rise.

Nevertheless it is obvious that our trade union must be more measured than an angry and obscure leftist blogger - however there are a couple of points missing from a statement with none of the content of which I disagree‎.

First, given that - although by no means did every leave voter cast their vote out of bigotry‎ - this referendum result is a victory most of all for the racist right, we must affirm our opposition to racism alongside our opposition to austerity and with equal prominence. 

Dave Prentis did make this point in speaking to the statement at Conference this morning - observing that many members who are migrants would be frightened this morning and affirming that UNISON's message was that migrant workers are welcome in our trade union and in our country.

In standing alongside our black members - and migrant workers - UNISON has to be prepared to engage forcefully with prejudice wherever it is expressed (including within our own ranks).‎ Immigration does not cause the economic and social problems for which it is blamed - and we must educate our activists and members to take issue with such misconceptions wherever and whenever they are expressed.

Secondly, in circumstances in which the Labour right-wing (who themselves created the distance between our Party and our class, some of the consequences of which we witnessed yesterday) may mount an attack upon our Party Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, we must reaffirm our support for the Leader, expressed at our Conference on Wednesday.‎ 

The firm support which Dave Prentis pledged for Jeremy Corbyn earlier this week - when he reminded our Conference that he had ‎campaigned for Jeremy in the leadership campaign - will need to be repeated and reiterated in the coming days.

Dave Prentis reaffirmed that UNISON would fight in defence of public services - this will need the rejuvenation of our trade union (of which more later) but it will also depend upon our anti-austerity Labour Leader behind whom UNISON - and the entire trade union movement - must stand.






Dear Colleague


Please find below Press Release issued today – UNISON on the vote to leave



Friday 24 June 2016

For immediate release


UNISON on the vote to leave the EU


Commenting on the news that the UK has voted to leave the EU, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:


"The people have spoken, and they have made a clear call for change – and a different relationship with Europe.


"We will be working in the coming weeks and months to hold the leave campaigners to the promises they've made – that there will be more money for the NHS, and that our rights at work will remain intact.


"But this also has to be a time for our country to heal. At its best the campaign has enabled genuine debate and discussion in our homes, workplaces and communities about the future of the economy and the kind of country we want to live in. 


"At its worst, the campaign has been typified by hatred, vitriol and misinformation that have done a huge disservice to our democracy and values.    


"Over the coming weeks and months, all political leaders must think about how to address the issues that people in our communities care most about – falling incomes, insecure jobs, unaffordable housing and the huge challenges facing our public services after more than half a decade of cuts. "


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