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Rooting out Racism


Delegates to the 132nd TUC Congress in Glasgow next week will witness a powerful dramatisation based around some of the harrowing calls made to this year's TUC Root out racism hotline, performed by the Theatre Royal, Stratford East.

Taking to the stage at the beginning of next Wednesday's afternoon session in the SECC, will be Nina Wadia, one of the stars of BBC TV's Goodness Gracious Me, and Sylvester Williams, who plays Mick in EastEnders. Also taking it in turns to play callers to the TUC line, as well as the racists who have made the many callers lives a complete misery, will be Roger Griffiths, who played Everton, Lenny Henry's sidekick in Chef, and Shobna Gulati, best known as Anita in Dinner Ladies.

TUC delegates will also hear how much the TUC has achieved in tackling racism in a new report entitled Rooting out racism published today (Wednesday). The report, written by Guardian journalist Gary Younge, for the TUC's Stephen Lawrence Task Group, outlines the group's action plan which has committed the unions to a serious shift of resources to tackle racism in the workplace.

The report shows how the TUC and unions have made themselves transparent in facing up to their own shortcomings, and how they intend to take on racism at all levels, from the boardroom to the shopfloor.

The four black and Asian actors who are due to perform at Congress at 2.30pm on Wednesday 13 September, were brought together by Philip Hedley, director of the Theatre Royal, Stratford East. The intense ten-minute drama, which gives a powerful insight into the extent of workplace racism, was written by Ashmeed Sohoye.

The stories used in the drama include a worker whose wage packets usually come complete with a smattering of racist graffiti, a finance worker who regularly receives racist letters at work and home, a senior bio-chemist who discovers he is being paid over £10,000 less than more junior white colleagues, and a caller who says the abuse has got so bad, he is contemplating suicide.

TUC General Secretary, John Monks said: "Over the past few years unions have been working hard to challenge hatred and prejudice wherever it rears its ugly head. Of course there is still much to do, but unions and employers working together can make a real difference. We all stand to benefit from greater fairness and justice at work."

Director of the Theatre Royal, Stratford East, Philip Hedley said: "It's good to see the TUC taking the issue of racism seriously. I hope the arts will learn from the TUC's initiative and also try to eradicate both overt and covert racism."

The TUC publication Rooting out racism describes what the TUC and trade unions have been doing since the publication of the Macpherson report last autumn to rid workplaces of racism. Since the TUC's task group was set up, it has devised an anti-racist strategy for black workers and the whole of the trade union movement, run several key conferences, as well as the week-long Root out racism hotline, and published three major pieces of research:


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