TUC-DGB statement on PEGIDA-UK March this Saturday
In the light of Saturday’s planned March in Newcastle-on-Tyne by the alleged British branch of the far right, anti-Islamic German organisation PEGIDA, I have agreed the following statement with my opposite number in Germany, Reiner Hoffman, President of the DGB.
On behalf of working people and their communities in Britain and Germany, we believe that no good will come of attacks on communities because of their race, religion or nationality, and we condemn those who seek to sow division and conflict among working people. We believe in social justice and equal rights for all.
Trade unions represent all workers, regardless of any perceived differences between them, and our experience is that racism and religious strife scar communities and discrimination – at work and in the community – leads to working people becoming poorer and weaker in the face of adversity. Everyone should be proud of the positive characteristics of the groups to which they belong, but that pride must not be at the expense or denigration of others.
Both the DGB and TUC recall what can happen when tensions escalate and underlying conflict is not resolved. In the past the focus of such hatreds have been Jews, gays and black people, and Eastern Europeans and disabled people are now suffering similarly. The Muslim community is facing real problems of discrimination and poverty – a third of Muslims are living in the 10% most deprived neighbourhoods of Britain – and the Islamophobia that PEGIDA is feeding off and promoting is just the latest in a long line of prejudices that need to be overcome.
We believe in the peaceful settlement of conflicts whether they are between nations and communities or within workplaces. We urge all those in a position to do so to take whatever steps they can to reduce tension, whether that is by tackling exploitation at work and offering young people from all communities a future, providing fair access to quality public services or encouraging better community relations and integration.
In the meantime, we will not stand on the sidelines as far right organisations spread their poison in workplaces and communities. We don’t accept that PEGIDA has the right to stir up hatred on our streets anywhere in Britain or Germany, and we call on the community to unite against their pernicious activities and hate speech.