Articles from the Nov 2004 edition, the Socialist

Token anti-racism campaign Not Enough!

By Carmel Whelan, Dublin SY

THE FIFTH Anti-Racist Workplace Week, took place from 1 - 7 November. This is supposed to encourage co-operation and tolerance and to end racism and discrimination in the workplace. However, it is merely another indication of the Irish government's hypocrisy.

While the Socialist Party supports the aims of the Anti-Racist Workplace Week, it will have little impact and ignores the real issue of the government's racist policies such as the new Irish Citizenship Bill. In his address at the launch of the event, Michael McDowell stated that "as Anti-Racist Workplace Week emphasises, racism is bad for the economy, bad for business, bad for employees and bad for society generally." However not only have this government sought to scapegoat refugees for the lack of decent services and the housing crisis that they are responsible for, they have also made it impossible for them to work.

If an immigrant cannot acquire a work permit, then they are forced to work for low wages with no rights, as they are employed illegally. Socialist Youth's "End Low Pay" campaign found that the abuse of immigrant workers is widespread. For example, a Romanian worker was given a sheet of paper by his employer, who stated that these were his rights. The sheet of paper was blank!

The trade unions should launch a campaign to unionise all immigrant workers to ensure they get proper wages and working conditions. The unions should also be campaigning to get the current work permit scheme scrapped which effectively enslaves immigrant workers. According to a report by the NCCRI, racist attacks and "taunts" have increased by 70% in three years. A united campaign of all workers for decent pay and working conditions would do more to combat racism than a thousand token campaigns by the government.

Mobilise against racist attacks

BETWEEN APRIL and September this year, racist attacks have doubled in North Belfast. Over this 183 day period there were 129 "hate crimes" recorded throughout the city. On Saturday 7 November in Portadown, a pregnant Portuguese woman and her two year old son had their home petrolbombed and were lucky to get out alive.

by Aideen McMullen

These racists attacks need to be stopped. We need to make it clear it is the racists who are not welcome, not the innocent members of ethnic minority groups.

I was part of the Socialist Party/ Socialist Youth contingent at the "No Excuses" rally organised by the 'Anti-Racism Network. This was attended by approximately 2000 people and had speakers from the Chinese community, the lesbian and gay community and the ARN.

We were protesting against racist attacks and peoples' every day lives being made hell by the fear of being attacked. This protest was useful in making people more aware of the anti racist feelings experienced by the majority in Northern Ireland, but are demonstrations like this enough to stop the attacks?

Unfortunately the main emphasis of most of the ARN leaders is to call on the police and courts to deal with this problem. One spokesperson, Stephen Alexander, has called on "everyone in authority to take action and the police need to catch and prosecute those behind racist attacks".

Instead the main emphasis should be on action by people in the working class communities, not reliance on the state. When Filipino nurses living in West Belfast were attacked in the week after the ARN demonstration more than a hundred local people, including members of the ARN, held a rally opposing the attack.

This is the sort of protest which will really make it clear to the racists in our society that their attacks will not be tolerated.

We also need to make clear that racism exists because of poverty and social inequality. Working class anger at these things needs to be redirected against the employers and government whose policies are responsible for these things.

Other anti-racist articles and anti-fascist material

More articles from this issue of the Socialist are listed here.

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