ITUC Condemns Rise in Racist and Xenophobic Political Discourse

"Racism and Conflict" is the theme the United Nations has chosen for International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination 2012. The ITUC fully supports this decision, underlining that racism and xenophobia have been at the root of most deadly conflicts in the history of humanity.

The ITUC also draws attention to the alarming rise in racial discrimination in our societies and workplaces. The current context of job shortages, rising inequalities and falling living standards provides fertile ground for social tension. The trade union movement firmly condemns the rise in xenophobic political discourse stigmatising certain nationalities, religions, ethnic groups or communities, who are in no way to blame for the current situation.

"Politicians who stigmatise certain religious or ethnic groups and communities for electoral purposes are treading on very dangerous ground. Instigating racial tension is not only unacceptable, it is also a serious threat to social peace, cohesion and stability," said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

As regards the world of work, several studies, such as those of the ILO, point to the widespread discriminatory practices used in the recruitment of workers, even in the case of employment agencies. Trade unions are calling for better mechanisms to implement laws and international standards on non-discrimination. The ITUC lays special emphasis on the precarious situation of many migrant workers, who often have to suffer racial discrimination and xenophobia in spite of making a significant contribution to the economy of the country in which they are living.

"Governments and social partners share a responsibility to promote diversity and multicultural interaction in the workplace, in the interests of more tolerant societies and stronger economies. This constitutes a major challenge for the years ahead," concluded General Secretary Sharan Burrow.