Is the Unite Faith Workers' Branch a Safe Space for Black and Minority Faith Workers? Featured
The Unite Faith Workers’ Branch is a National Branch of Unite the Union, one of the largest trades unions in Britain and Ireland. The Branch claims to be a multifaith organisation for clergy and faith workers of every religion and belief.
However, over a number of years, the Executive Committee of the Faith Workers’ Branch, which is dominated by Anglican and other white Christian clergy, has been the subject of ongoing complaints of racism, sectarianism, bullying, sexual harassment and abuse, and is now facing legal action. Unite the Union and its London and Eastern Region which hosts the Unite Faith Workers' Branch has lost a number of high profile legal cases of sexual harassment and race discrimination, and the Union lost a case against Anna Turley, former Labour MP and vocal critic of its record on antisemitism, leading to Court awarding her £75 000 in damages with legal costs faced by Unite in excess of £1.5 million. Several senior Jewish rabbis have also resigned their membership of the Unite Faith Workers' Branch in protest at the same culture of antisemitism.
In his July 2020 report, the Secretary of the Unite Faith Workers’ Branch, the eminent black Anglican theologian and clergyman, Revd Dr David Isiorho, published a statement asking, “Does Unite Have its Knee on the Neck of its Black Members”, in which he offered a litany of concerns about the racist and sectarian discrimination, bullying and malfeasance by the white Christian majority Unite Faith Workers’ Executive Committee Officers, in blatant violation of trades union values. David Isiorho himself, had over the previous months bravely defended the rights of non-white and non-Christian minority clergy and faith workers within the Faith Workers' Branch and, as a result as Branch Secretary had faced bullying and pressure from his white colleagues and repeated undermining of his position.
Even following this damning report, the Acting Chair, Revd Ruth Oates, and Treasurer, Revd Peter Hobson, still continued on to reject the Unite Legal Department’s own legal advice to immediately recognise non-white and non-Christian sub-groups within the Faith Workers’ Branch, whose recognition Ruth Oates and Peter Hobson had in January 2020 blocked from being voted on at all, with false statements made at the meeting about admission requirements. This discrimination and lying have since led to further formal complaints and legal action.
Prior to this, in August 2019, the eminent and respected Anglican Chair of the Unite Faith Workers’ Branch, Revd Stephen Trott, resigned in protest at what he called a “vendetta” perpetrated by some of the white Church of England Officers against a Muslim Executive Member and academic, Sheikh Dr Muhammad Al-Hussaini, who had published articles in the Church of England Newspaper highlighting the victimisation of whistleblowers of bullying, racial and religious discrimination and of sexual abuse within the Church of England.
Peter Hobson, who is Chair of Church of England Clergy Advocates (CECA), the Anglican sub-group within the Faith Workers’ Branch, received strong political pressure from the Church of England, following the publication of Muhammad Al-Hussaini’s articles on Anglican sexual abuse and bullying. As a result, Peter Hobson dishonestly published a press statement undermining Muhammad Al-Hussaini’s article, his falsely claiming to do so in the name of the Faith Workers’ Executive, despite his having acted against the strong opposition of the Branch Chair, Stephen Trott, and Secretary, David Isiorho, and without consultation with the Executive Committee.
Another Anglican Executive Committee Member involved in this “vendetta” was Steven Saxby, whom other Executive Committee Officers confirmed was acting at the "agitation" of William Campbell-Taylor, another controversial fellow Labour Party vicar also in the City of London. Saxby had to resign due to alleged sexual harassment, and the Church of England has confirmed that both Steven Saxby and William Campbell-Taylor are facing legal complaints around safeguarding and bullying matters under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003.
Prior to this Revd Dean Henley, a gay Executive Committee Officer, resigned due to his experiencing homophobic bullying within the Union.
In the intervening months, the Hindu community and the Hindu scholar and Chair of the Association of Hindu Faith Workers, Pandit Satish Sharma, has been vilified and repeatedly blocked by Peter Hobson, Ruth Oates and their accomplices in the Unite Faith Workers' Branch Executive Committee from taking up his rightful place on the Executive Committee as a Hindu Workplace Grouping Representative, and this continues against the background of this shocking history of sexual abuse, racism, discrimination and cruelty against vulnerable people.
Peter Hobson and Church of England Clergy Advocates (CECA) have pursued a close collaborative relationship with the authorities of Church House and the Church of England, and actively advocated for reform of the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 in favour of clergy who are accused of misconduct or abuse. This has led to concerns by survivors and their advocates about role of these lobbyists for vicars to revise and rebalance the clergy discipline rules against those who complain of abuse and harm perpetrated by Anglican clergy.
- Unite Faith Workers' Branch
- Unite the Union
- sexual harassment
- sexual abuse
- Church of England
- Revd David Isiorho
- Revd Stephen Trott
- Pandit Satish Sharma
- Pete Hobson
- Ruth Oates
- Terence Young
- William CampbellTaylor
- William Taylor
- Steven Saxby
- Equality Act 2010
- Len McCluskey
- Clergy Discipline Measure