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UNISON Birmingham Branch speaks out about the referendum

UNISON Birmingham Branch has realeased a statement following the EU Referendum. The Birmingham Branch is concerned at the reported rise in racism and it attacks the Austerity agenda of the Tory Government.

The Branch statement reads:

In the run up to, and since the outcome of, the EU referendum there has been a significant rise in racism and far right nationalism in the UK. There have been attacks on Mosques, Polish centres and a huge rise in individual acts of racism and violence.  There has also been the horrific murder of Jo Cox Labour MP.

Recently UKIP leader Nigel Farage stood in front of a poster chillingly reminiscent of Nazi propaganda showing a long queue of refugees heading for Europe. Earlier, he stated that violence would be the ‘next step’ when people felt that nothing could be done about immigration through democratic means.

We do not believe that everyone that voted to leave agreed with these views, there is widespread mistrust of the politicians both here and in Europe so the way that people voted is much more complex than the media would have us believe and there were members of all political parties on both sides of the leave or remain debate.

Birmingham UNISON believes that the problems we face in Britain are not caused by immigration but by Austerity. The government have used the recession as an excuse to cut public services to breaking point.  As council workers we know that our services are being decimated by government cuts that are completely unnecessary in the fifth richest economy in the world. 

The government have cut public spending at the same time as cutting taxes for their rich friends.  This means that since 2010 the 1000 richest people in the UK have doubled their wealth with enough extra money to pay off the deficit in full.  The rich and corporate business prefer to hide their money away in tax havens as shown by the release of the Panama papers rather than pay their fair share of tax.  If they were made to pay their fair share there would be enough money to provide all of the services that we need in the UK.

It is a fact that immigration contributes money into the British economy. However, this fact is being hidden by those who would prefer us to blame each other for the problems experienced as services are cut and privatised, rather than look at the redistribution of wealth, from the poorest to the richest, that is happening  in our society. 

Now the referendum is over, whether we voted to remain or to leave the EU we must unite. We are proud to live in a multi-cultural city and to work with a multi-cultural workforce. Together we need to challenge the racist narrative and stand up against prejudice wherever we see it.

We must redouble our efforts to make sure that this vote is not used by the racists and the far right. As Jo Cox said “we have far more in common than that which divides us”. That means standing up to racism and recognising the contribution made by generations of immigrants who have helped build Britain and our NHS. It also means we have to address the problems Austerity has created and stand up and fight for an economy that improves the lives of the majority, rather than just a tiny minority.

If you are not yet a member of UNISON please join us as standing together as workers is what makes our union strong.

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