The IWGB is a diverse, grassroots trade union, representing thousands of people across the country, from a number of backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, genders and nationalities. The Union works hard every day holding abusive employers to account, for a variety of unlawful conduct, including and importantly, for instances of discrimination.
In law, discrimination is unlawful behaviour that relates to, or is because of, someone else's protected characteristic – such as disability, nationality, sexual orientation, gender or race. These characteristics are protected in the Equality Act 2010.
It is for this reason, as well as because it is simply just morally wrong, that the Union expects its own members to be inclusive of other members, and be polite and respectful of other members, regardless of their gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation, or any protected characteristic. Not being inclusive of others in the Union is deeply hypocritical when accusing your boss of treating you differently for a similar reason.
Strategically speaking, it is also counter-productive to the Union's own aims and processes to discriminate or abuse other members on the basis of their gender, race, sexual orientation etc. It is extremely unhelpful, because it fosters a hostile atmosphere where minorities do not feel valued, welcomed or accepted, and degrades the trust they have in the Union as an organisation that fights these kinds of problems. Ultimately, it can have dire consequences as it undoes the hard work we all do building unity between members, and makes it infinitely harder to win campaigns when workers are not accepting of each other. Even low-level, casually racist, sexist, homophobic language used in, for example, Union WhatsApp chats, can create a hostile environment for minorities, and is both inappropriate and unacceptable.
As an organisation that fights abuse, part of that process is to create a Union free from the same kinds of abuses suffered by our members at work and in wider society. So we all must shoulder the responsibility of upholding the highest standards of inclusivity and respect to all of the Union's members, reps, staff and volunteers. Because if the Union is not a safe space for absolutely everybody, then it is not a safe space for anybody. For all of us to be safe and free, every single one of us should feel included, accepted, welcome, and equal, in the Union.
So if you are someone who holds disparaging views about other groups of people because of their nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation etc., consider that such views are not welcome in the IWGB. Abusing other members may result in another member complaining about it and disciplinary action being brought against you by the IWGB Executive Committee.
More information on what type of behaviour is acceptable can be found in the Union's policies, for example its members' code of conduct. If you have questions about what type of language or behaviour might cause offence please do get in touch and we would be happy to discuss.
If you witness such abuses, then please try to combat it, try to resolve it informally between yourselves, and escalate it to the IWGB Executive Committee if necessary, in the form of a complaint. To succeed and to win, we all need to support each other and uphold the freedoms that we all would like to enjoy, by making everyone feel included, and by robustly tackling abusive behaviours.
All complaints should be put in writing to [email protected].