“No other prick was doing it”, said Peter Simpson, Electrical Trades Union (Queensland and NT) state secretary, explaining why the union has launched a new campaign video, Stand Up Against Racism.
The recording calls on unionists to reject Islamophobia and the politics of Reclaim Australia and far right splinter groups that prey on people’s fears.
“We’ve got members that are of all colours and creeds in our union”, Simpson told Red Flag. “But we have members who are Muslim that are too scared to speak out. We had Nazis marching in the streets of Brisbane two weeks ago.”
Simpson said that the union had trouble finding Muslim union members to appear in the video because they were concerned about “copping grief”.
Stuart Traill, an organiser with the union, said that he has had fruitful conversations with union members about the importance of the labour movement leading the fight against racism.
“They know that there is a rising force within the political movement. None of our members want to see the Nazi movement and the right wing extremist movement rising up and getting a political say in this country. Our members don’t agree with racism in any form.”
But the union can see that the climate has shifted dangerously to the right. Its message is for workers’ unity, regardless of race or religion, in the face of the right:
“Who are we as a society? Who are we as a trade union? Who are we as workers? If we don’t look after our own, and look after each other’s backs, who’s going to do that for us? The Murdoch press? For Christ’s sake wake up – stand up against racism.”