There’s still much work to be done.
On March 21, Unifor acknowledges the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It’s not a celebration, though.
On that day in 1960, police officers in the township of Sharpeville, South Africa opened fire on a group of people peacefully protesting oppressive pass laws, killing 69. The anniversary of the massacre is remembered annually with a recommitment for society to end racism in all its forms.
“We are recommitting to our responsibility to eradicate racism in all its forms,” said Christine Maclin, Unifor’s Human Rights Director.
“Racism is still a reality for so many and the pandemic has propelled online hate, harassment, abuse and violence. We all need to eradicate racism, violence and harm collectively. It’s our shared responsibility to not just put finding solutions on victims’ shoulders.”
Racism divides the working class and Unifor is committed to building solidarity across our union and communities.
Unifor is also committed to making workplaces anti-racist. Since September 2020, we have bargained for over 100 Racial Justice Advocates in collective agreements.
These advocates liaise with employers, locals and the national union with its anti-racism work, addressing racial discrimination in workplaces and connecting to community organizations.
From June 12 to 17, 2022, we’re hosting our first Racial Justice Advocate training at Unifor’s Port Elgin Education Centre.
Our five Unifor Racial Justice Liaisons – Margaret Olal from Local 3000, Peycke Roan Local 975, Japna Sidhu-Brar from Local 4005, Cindy Ostapyk from Local 4002 and Marie-France Fleurantin with Local 62 – have tirelessly developed plans to share with our advocates.
These liaisons diligently worked from March to November 2021 with over 200 community organizations and local unions to create an “Anti-Racism Toolkit” that provides local leaders with the resources they need to help eradicate racism.
Unifor is also providing a questionnaire at this training session that allows members to anonymous share their stories and experiences with racism, in an effort to build an internal framework for fighting racism, which will guide Unifor leaders, activists and members to get involved and fight racism.
There is a misconception that racist laws and practices have been abolished in many countries. Most racist acts are never reported and too many individuals, communities, and societies suffer from the injustice and the stigma that racism brings, including the all- too-normal reality that racism never really feels like it has been addressed.
On March 21, Unifor is asking members to continually check their own bias, to call out racism and step in to make sure that we are all doing our part to eradicate racism.
Register your local Human Rights committees with the national Human Rights Department, support community actions that stand up to racism and make your workplace, society and Canada, a more inclusive place to be.