From: Weir Adrian R1 SA Research/Policy/Campaigns [mailto:Adrian.Weir@unitetheunion.com]
Sent: 23 June 208 13:07
Subject: UNIONS SEVER ALL LINKS WITH RISE
UNITE the UNION
23 June 2008
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LONDON UNIONS SEVER ALL LINKS WITH
Today (Monday 23 June) the trade unions in London announced that they have withdrawn all support from the Mayor of London's Rise Festival.
The organisation of the event has been a fiasco from start to finish. Arrangements for the festival began under former Mayor Livingstone. Three weeks after the London elections new Mayor Johnson confirmed the event would continue as before.
Then suddenly Mr Johnson's new cultural advisor, Munira Mirza, stripped the festival title of its sub-heading "London United Against Racism" only for the Mayor to say to the BBC that he knew nothing of this decision.
Ms Mirza also banned the Cuba Solidarity Campaign from continuing their joint sponsorship of the Latin American stage in partnership with Unite, and from even participating in the event.
The unions have decided that this package of measures changes the focus and nature of the Rise Festival to such an extent that it will be just another musical event in Finsbury Park, and therefore that money earmarked for anti-racist campaigning will be better spent in other ways.
Megan Dobney, the TUC's London Regional Secretary said: "Trade unions are greatly offended by the removal of the central anti-racist message as well as by the ban on an organisation supported by the TUC. Trade union negotiation has proved fruitless and SERTUC is therefore left with no alternative but to withdraw."
Steve Hart, Unite London Regional Secretary said: "Rise, or Respect as it was known, was launched by the trade unions as a means of involving mainly young people in anti-racism in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence and other racist murders. What is the point of what was explicitly an anti-racist festival if it drops its commitment to anti-racism?"
Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union General Secretary said: "We have supported the Rise Festival as a celebration of London's diverse communities and of anti-racism. It appears that this clear message is now being lost and the FBU no longer feels able to participate. We remain committed to any genuine initiative aimed at combating racism."
This statement is also endorsed by Thompson's Solicitors and the Greater London Association of Trade Union Councils.
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For further please contact: Megan Dobney (TUC) on 020.7467.1220; Steve Hart (Unite) on 07970.081509; Matt Wrack (FBU) on 020.8541.1765
Note to editors:
The Rise Festival started life in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence murder as the TUC organised Respect anti-racist festival.
The idea was taken up by Ken Livingstone when Mayor, who promoted seven annual festivals during his mayoralty.
During the Livingstone years the name was changed from Respect to Rise.
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Calling all Unite members! Have you voted in the ballot on Unite's new rulebook? Ballot papers must be returned to The Independent Scrutineer to arrive no later than 31st July 2008. Unite members who have not received a ballot paper by 16th July 2008 should contact the enquiry service on 020 8889 9203. Download a pdf of the final draft rules and guide on the ballot.
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