17 August 2020

"Does Unite have its knee on the neck of its Black members?" Featured

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Written by  Dr Rev David Isiorho
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Secretary’s Report FWB JULY 2020

Does Unite have its knee on the neck of its Black members?

The killing of George Floyd reflects the daily injustices that black people face and that includes the things that take place in Unite the Union and its Faith Workers’ branch. My report takes the form of a litany of concern and theological reflection on the work of the committee structure of FWB during the second half of the triennial.

When meetings are chaired in such a way that Points of Order are ruled against before they have been heard:
Does Unite have its knee on the neck of its Black members?

When agenda items are not discussed and even deleted by the acting chair following last minute discussions with Unite officials:
Does Unite have its knee on the neck of its Black members?

When we are denied faith-based workplace groupings other than Christian:
Does Unite have its knee on the neck of its Black members?

When able people from faiths other than Christian are denied membership of our executive committee:
Does Unite have its knee on the neck of its Black members?

When the branch secretary is told by the acting chair to rewrite the minutes of the previous meeting before their circulation:
Does Unite have its knee on the neck of its Black members?

When branch officers conspire to organise private meetings with unite officials without the branch secretary:
Does Unite have its knee on the neck of its Black members?

When clearly defined roles in the Unite Rule book for the branch secretary are usurped by the acting chair with the agreement of Unite officials:
Does Unite have its knee on the neck of its Black members?

When Unite officials invite lawyers to agenda setting meetings:
Does Unite have its knee on the neck of its Black members?

When the branch secretary has no confidence in Unite officials not to undermine his position and side with other officers within the branch against him:
Does Unite have its knee on the neck of its Black members?

When the branch secretary is falsely accused of not consulting the chair when draft agenda has been tabled many weeks in advance:
Does Unite have its knee on the neck of its Black members?

When so little has been done to address the equality issues facing the Faith Workers Branch:
Does Unite have its knee on the neck of its Black members?

When the branch secretary is Black:
Does Unite have its knee on the neck of its Black members?

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  • PRESS RELEASE 20th May 2021 from Unite - Faith Workers Branch

    Len McClusky’s Unite Union Officers accused of racial and religious discrimination against BAME Faith Workers.

    Asian Hindu, Afro-Caribbean Christian and Arab Muslim ethnic minority religious leaders and academics are taking legal action against Unite the Union, the UK's biggest trades union for serious racial and religious discrimination, harassment and bullying.

    Pandit Satish K Sharma, Hindu Chaplain and Scholar, Revd Dr David Isiorho, Senior Fellow of the Anglican Foundation and Sheikh Dr Muhammad Al-Hussaini, Senior Fellow in Islamic Studies at the Westminster Institute have commenced legal proceedings against Len McCluskey's trades union, alleging racism and discrimination in its national branch for clergy and religious ministers, the "Unite Faith Workers' Branch". All three are Members of the Executive Committee of this Unite clergy union.

    The allegations including severe racial and religious harassment and bullying, led to the resignation in protest of the Anglican Chair of the Unite Faith Workers' Branch, Canon Stephen Trott, due to what he called a "vendetta" against one black non-Christian Officer, followed later by the resignation of black Christian Officer, Revd Isiorho, due to the same allegations of discrimination and victimisation.

    Pandit Satish K Sharma alleged gross racial and religious discrimination when he attempted to give the Hindu and Muslim community the same standing as Church of England and other Christian groups within the Unite clergy union, with repeated blocking by the all-white and all-Christian leadership, of the equal recognition of Hindu and Muslim groups on the same basis as white Christian groups. Pandit Sharma himself was the primary focus of an aggressive campaign of hate speech and obstruction from being appointed on the Executive Committee, by these same white Anglicans.

    Pandit Sharma, Sheikh Al-Hussaini and Revd Isiorho have previously raised concerns about anti-semitism within Unite which led to the resignation of several Jewish rabbis from the Unite Faith Workers' Branch.
    Unite the Union has been plagued with prominent legal cases of antisemitism, racial and sexual harassment which it has lost, with compension and legal costs running into the millions. Another former Anglican Chair of the Unite Faith Workers' Branch was sacked from his job and suspended by the Labour Party for sexual harassment.

    Three black, Asian and ethnic minority clergy have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to fight institutionalised racial and religious discrimination in Unite the Union.

     

    Enquiries to :-
    Pt Satish K Sharma,

    0208 123 8272
    Further background information at https://www.unitefaithworkers.com/
    Crowdjustice link : -
    https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/action-against-unite-the-union/

  • Five senior Rabbis Quit Unite Faith Workers' Branch in Protest at Len McCluskey and Antisemitism

    by Kate Proctor

    Cross-posting from The Evening Standard

    https://www.standard.co.uk/

    22 August 2018

    Five senior rabbis have today quit Labour’s biggest union backer Unite in protest at boss Len McCluskey’s criticism of Jewish community leaders.

    Rabbi David Mitchell of the West London Synagogue said he and his colleagues could no longer remain members of a union whose chief has been “disingenuous” about Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis.

    In a letter to the union’s executive delivered last night, the group — who are all part of the Reform and Liberal movements — wrote: “Len McCluskey’s most recent comments about the leadership of the Jewish community are not only unhelpful, but are disingenuous, for in so doing he attempts to rewrite the story of the last six months and plays down the genuine concerns of the majority of the Jewish community, as expressed by our leadership.

    “We can no longer remain members of a trade union which has lost control of its leadership, for when a leader writes: ‘I am a leader and I answer to those I represent’, we realise that he no longer means us.”

    Unite is the only union in the UK with a faith workers’ branch and represents hundreds of clergy. Rabbi Mitchell, who serves a 3,000-strong congregation at the UK’s flagship Reform synagogue in Marble Arch, said: “Union membership is an essential part of being a rabbi. There’s an incredible Jewish legacy in the trade union movement and to resign from Unite is a really difficult decision.” He added: “I’ve never experienced a trade union getting involved in national politics in terms of anti-Semitism before and that for me is really shocking. Unite’s faith workers chapter should be the natural home of rabbis.”

    Mr McCluskey, a close Jeremy Corbyn ally, enraged the Jewish community with a piece for the Huffington Post where he said community leaders had shown “truculent hostility” towards Labour and said they should “dial down the rhetoric” over the anti-Semitism row. He claimed the party had met all the requests of Jewish groups but that they were refusing to engage.

    Despite calling for Labour to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism in full — something Mr Corbyn has been reluctant to do — his outburst sparked outrage.

    A Unite spokesperson said: “Unite is actively committed to fighting anti-Semitism and racism. We hope that the rabbis take up Mr McCluskey’s offer to meet and discuss their concerns.”

     

  • Is the Unite Faith Workers' Branch a Safe Space for Black and Minority Faith Workers?

    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.

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