On March 21, 1960, police opened fire and killed 69 people and wounded 180 others who were peacefully demonstrating against apartheid “pass laws” in the township of Sharpeville, South Africa. This led the United Nations to declare March 21 the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

On this day, CUPE joins with other unions and organizations to continue the fight against all forms of racial intolerance. We continue to confront racism however it shows itself, including racial profiling, over-representation in the corrections system, precarious work, and lack of employment and education opportunities.

For CUPE, March 21 is also a time to remember those we have lost as a direct result of their fight for human rights and against racism. And we remember the struggles and challenges that racialized and Indigenous peoples have long endured – and continue to endure.

For these reasons and more, CUPE’s 2017‑2019 Strategic Directions, our policy roadmap, reaffirms our commitment to build working class solidarity in our communities, fight racism in all its forms, work for equity for racialized workers and fight against the rising tide of hatred.

We call upon the government of Justin Trudeau to:

  • Strengthen and enforce employment equity laws and regulations, and fix gaps in the employment equity system.
  • Move to end racial profiling.
  • Implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action.
  • Seriously address racism in all its forms, including anti-Black racism, Islamophobia and racism against Indigenous peoples by implementing the recommendations to Canada made by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Members can take action:

  • Bargain. Negotiate employment equity language into your collective agreement. Contact the Human Rights branch for information at humanrights@cupe.ca
  • Educate. Register for a union workshop that deals with anti-racism practices, dealing with harassment, discrimination or bullying. Invite someone to speak about anti-racism at your next union meeting.
  • Intervene. Educate yourself on the best ways to intervene to challenge racist actions and how best to support the person or group affected. Speak out against racist acts like jokes, slurs, graffiti or name-calling.
  • Challenge your workplace. Speak out about racist and discriminatory policies and practices in your workplace.
  • Challenge yourself. Consider how some of your own assumptions might be influenced by discrimination.
  • Become an ally. An ally is someone who actively supports racialized groups facing challenges. Being in alliance helps strengthen relationships in the workplace.

Read more:

  • Read the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and explore how you can support the calls to action for reconciliation.
  • Review the preliminary report by the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent which addresses systemic racism faced by people of African descent across Canada.
  • Learn about the recommendations made by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in its review of Canada.
  • Access anti-racism tools like CUPE National’s anti-racism brochure, Diversity, Our Strength

Find out more at cupe.ca