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Lambeth black workers accuse council of racism

RACISM ACCUSATIONS: A group of black workers have described alleged incidents of discrimination in a letter to Lambeth council (Image: Steve Cadman)

STAFF AT Lambeth council have accused the local authority of racism.

An open letter submitted to the council by a group calling itself Lambeth Black Workers states that racism in the workplace has caused “despair, humiliation, disappointments and rejection”.

The letter states: “Racism has always been a factor in the working lives of Lambeth’s Black staff. However over the past 10 years, since the financial crash in 2008 and the harsh reality of austerity, some in our society have chosen to blame immigrants and the children of immigrants. This is also being reflected in our working environment. Increasingly Lambeth’s black staff have experienced the rising tide of hatred in numerous ways and at every level in the council.”

The group is comprised of around 20 workers working, according to The Guardian.

The authors of the letter also refer to incidents of segregation, racist comments and slurs and inequality of access to jobs.

The exchange of letters between the group and Lambeth council have been posted on the Lambeth Unison website.

A response to one of the letters from councillors Jennifer Brathwaite and Jack Hopkins urged the group to raise the allegations using the “proper formal channels”.

It stated: “There are numerous ways which are open and available to staff, including union meetings, a whistleblowing process and staff forums...if any staff member has suffered discrimination we would urge them to consider this course of action.”

The councillors also note that black and ethnic minority staff are under-represented in senior posts within the council.

Last April, Unison conducted a survey on race relations at the council. It found that almost half of the black staff who participated in the survey reported that they had witnessed or experienced racism from managers in the past two years. More than a third said that they had witnessed or experienced racism from their colleagues.

In a statement, Unison said: “Unison is very keen to work with senior management and the councillors to address these issues, but we fear that the problems might run deep. Since the late 1970s the council has repeatedly visited the issue of racism, with various working groups, monitoring committees, policy reviews, independent advisors and all manner of attempts to address structural inequality.”

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