Unions take on the far right in Wales
We’ve all felt it. We’ve all seen it, even if only on Facebook. And sometimes, we feel ourselves powerless to stop it.
I’m talking about the rise of the far right in Wales.
As many predicted, hate crime has been on the rise since the Brexit referendum. In north Wales alone, reported hate crimes more than doubled from 416 in 2014 to 858 in 2018.
The Wales I know and love is an open, tolerant, peaceful country. It pains me to read statistics like this and it angers me to hear about the reported rise in levels of hate crime.
Sometimes it feels as though hate and racism will never end, especially when you see the rhetoric of some politicians in the UK, Europe and across the pond. When a US President thinks it’s OK to tell citizens of his own country to “go home” it’s no wonder the far-right feel emboldened.
In Wales today we see far-right groups like System Resistance Network and Combat 18 mobilising in our streets and online. They seek recruits in communities that have suffered years of neglect, under-funding and unemployment and they try to divide us by blaming minorities for problems like low pay and unstable work.
Hope for the future
But, in the darkness, there are more than a few glimmers of hope.
I work for Wales TUC which represents the voices of 49 affiliated trade unions and 400,000 Welsh workers. The trade union movement has a strong history of standing up to the far right and we feel it’s our duty today to challenge the presence of the far right in the workplace and beyond.
For the last few months I’ve been working with colleagues in Cardiff and London on a new online training module called ‘Tackling the far right’ which is being launched today, 19 August.
It’s designed for anyone keen to learn how to identify and confront the far-right in their workplace and community.
The module takes about 20 minutes to complete and by doing it you will learn:
- The history of the far-right in Wales and the United Kingdom
- Which far-right groups are active in Wales
- How to challenge your friends and colleagues’ opinions without accusing and excluding them
- How to start community campaigns against the far-right
Take a look at the module at www.tuc.org.uk/farright
I’m very pleased that, for the first time, this training module is available in Welsh as well as in English. At Wales TUC we are determined to become a bilingual organisation – we recognise that many Welsh workers want to read our toolkits and use our online training in Welsh. This is the first online module we’ve created in Welsh but I’m sure it won’t be the last.
I think this training module will make a big difference to the presence of the far right in Welsh workplaces and I hope workers around the country find it useful.
Mark Rees, is a Union Learning and Support Officer at the Wales TUC.
Try the “Tackling the far right” training here.