Thursday, 2 February 2017

RTUC opposing President Trump’s Islamophobia with like-minded progressives

Event Flyer

On Thursday, 2 February 2017, members of the Reading Trades Union Council (including its Vice-President and Communications & Correspondence Secretary) joined Labour Party members, peace activists, students and those of a tolerant disposition young and old at the ‘Reading anti-Trump’s #MuslimBan solidarity gathering‘ outside Reading Town Hall. Beginning at 5.30pm, a crowd of around 200 people assembled – including a large number of children – holding homemade banners of protest against the American President, Donald J. Trump’s Executive Order, signed on 28 January, which banned travel to the USA from seven majority-Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia).
Nada addresses the diverse gathering of anti-racists
The organisers of the event, Nada and Wendy, were incensed by Trump’s action and felt the need to respond to his bigotry with a peaceful show of protest open to all like-minded people. As Nada explains, ‘It was organised in two days. I addressed the crowd and spoke about the need to be vigilant about who is to blame for the underfunding of the NHS and local schools. We need to protect each other and to demonstrate that we won’t allow people to be scapegoated or demonised for problems that they did not cause. We came out in solidarity with those who were made refugees through destructive wars.
‘We committed to defend anyone who feels under threat from the prejudice that is dominating the headlines. We are united as a community in valuing every person in our community. I was inspired by the turnout and people’s commitment to stand up for those targeted for their difference. I learnt many things but the key message was clearly that there’s a strong will to get involved and be active, and continue the resistance against racism and prejudice and invasions’.
Among the banners on display were ones reading ‘Stop Racist Wars Now’, ‘More in Common + United’ and ‘I am Malala’.
Reading Trades Union Council's Vice President and Secretary
***Stop Press*** Following Reading’s successful anti-Trump rally, US District Judge James Robart in Seattle stayed the Executive Order on 3 February pending a Federal Review. For the time being, Trump’s racist Order has been reversed – but pressure needs to continue to prevent its reinstatement as well as the further enactment of his illiberal and anti-democratic policies.

Fraternal Observer at Oxford & District Trades Union Council’s AGM

Also on 2 February, John Partington, RTUC Secretary, hurried from the anti-Trump demonstration to attend the Oxford & District Trades Union Council’s AGM as an invited guest, returning the tribute paid when Pól Ó Ceallaigh, Chair of the O&DTUC, attended RTUC’s AGM in December.

Key issues discussed were Oxfordshire County Council’s proposal to create a unified county authority, absorbing Oxford City Council and the other district councils in the county. Debate over the political consequences of such a move was had, with the proposal being contrasted with the alternative of a series of unitary authorities being established. There is currently no proposal for the status quo to be maintained – though that seemed favoured by the majority of attendees. Anything else would erode Labour’s strength in Oxford City, which is surrounded by a sea of Tory Blue throughout much the rest of the county. The delegates also looked forward to key events in the diary, including ‘Labour’s Industrial Strategy’ conference, Oxford (11 February), ‘Stand up to racism’ rally, Oxford (16 February), ‘Hands off our NHS!’, London (4 March), Levellers’ Day, Burford (20 May) and the Trades Councils’ Conference, Sunderland (10-11 June).

The election of officers was completed in an orderly manner, with Pól Ó Ceallaigh as President, Sue Tibbles as Secretary and Richard Kelsall as Treasurer, among others; these officers were also elected as a slate to the corresponding roles in the Oxfordshire County Association of Trades Union Councils.