Unions vow to combat rise in racist abuse against NHS staff

The Trades Union Congress has published guidance to combat racism in the workplace following the Brexit vote.

Unions have vowed to combat a 'surge' in racism in the workplace amid reports EU nurses and other workers have been racially abused following the Brexit vote.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) which includes Unison and Unite among its members, has issued new guidance following a rise in reported hate crimes in the wake of the UK's vote to leave the EU.

The National Police Chiefs Council reported a 57% rise in hate crimes in the 3 days after the vote on 23 June.

At an RCN council meeting last month, stewards warned EU nurses had been subject to racist abuse.

The new TUC guidance highlights that racist incidents were on the rise even before the referendum, including NHS patients refusing to be attended to by EU workers.

Employers' guidance

The TUC has also urged employers, including the NHS, to let migrant workers know they are valued.

Guidance for employers includes:

  • Adopt and promote zero-tolerance anti-discrimination policies, such as Transport for London’s well-publicised policy of prosecuting those who abuse staff.
  • Have a system so that staff can report discrimination at work easily, and have confidence employers will take it seriously.
  • Work with unions to train and support staff.

Recommendations for union representatives:

  • Ensure your employer has policies for preventing and dealing with any form of abuse and that the policies are regularly reviewed.
  • If you receive complaints of abuse or harassment, raise them with the employer as the policies may not be effective.
  • Be clear on how to deal with racial harassment or abuse cases where both the perpetrator and victim are union members.
  • Survey union members to find out about experiences of abuse.
  • Employers should make clear to any migrant workers that ‘they are a full and valuable member of the workplace and that this has not changed as a result of the Brexit vote’.
  • All staff should be trained on how to deal with any abuse they witness or receive.
Report abuse

RCN diversities and equalities co-ordinator Wendy Irwin said it has provided guidance to its officers and representatives to tackle such incidents.

She said employers have a duty to eradicate discrimination and harassment.

But she added: ‘It is up to everyone to be aware and report any incidents. As long as abuse goes unreported, it cannot be fully eradicated.’

TUC guidebook on combating racist abuse in the workplace

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