On March 21, we recognize the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to mark the infamous day in 1960, when Sharpeville, South Africa, police drew their guns and murdered peaceful demonstrators, who were protesting against apartheid “pass laws.”
Since then, we have seen some gains, including almost universal support for an international framework to combat racism. However, too many individuals and communities still face the violence and injustice of racism, discrimination, and inequalities, including in some of our workplaces.
As a union, it’s our responsibility to foster inclusion and work to eradicate racial discrimination in our workplaces and our communities. We can’t leave anyone behind.
That’s why, in 2023, our March 21 message is: “Our thoughts, our words, our actions.”
In a polarized and unstable landscape, we must be clear – inclusion is working together, embracing our similarities and our differences, all while advancing universal respect, justice and human rights. Every worker deserves respect at work, from their colleagues, from their union, and from their employer.
As a union, we also recognize that racism doesn’t stop at the doors of our workplaces. It continues to have an impact on the physical and mental health of far too many of our members who experience it.
Transformative change begins with each of us. We can learn and unlearn and we must if we are to create more justice in our workplaces, in our union and in broader society.
Unifor continues to support the more than 200 Racial Justice Advocates in our workplaces and encourages all bargaining committees to negotiate these important roles into your collective agreements.
We recognize that racial justice is necessary all year, not just on this important day. With effort and genuine commitment, we can make sure that racial justice is the reality for more workers.
So, on March 21 and beyond, we invite locals to provide a space for individuals to reflect on their perspectives and beliefs on racism.
We encourage members to participate in events in their communities and seek out opportunities for to advance their understanding of racism and its impacts.