On 16 March thousands of trade unionists and anti-racists will take to the streets of London, Cardiff and Glasgow to protest the politics of hate, writes Eastern Regional Secretary Riccardo la Torre.
I and fellow firefighters will be joining them, continuing the Fire Brigades Union’s proud history of standing up for working people and challenging groups with harmful ideologies.
From the Austrian and Italian firefighters, who as partisans in the Second World War gave their lives fighting to liberate Europe from fascism, to the late FBU general secretary Ken Cameron’s pioneering campaigning against apartheid, firefighters have consistently challenged the hateful and divisive tactics of the far-right.
Firefighters have a duty to protect our communities in emergencies, but a FBU firefighter must also remember those who came before us and their legacy of fighting hate and division as well as fires.
Today that threat faces us in the form of dog-whistling, race-baiting politicians like Trump, Orban and Salvini and the racist street movements across Europe that are emboldened by them. As firefighters we have a special relationship with our communities and have an important part to play in countering the dangerous and divisive message these groups and politicians persist in spreading.
The fire service is a humanitarian service – we risk our lives to help those in need, regardless of race or religion. It would therefore be perverse to ignore the plight of refugees and migrants that find themselves in atrocious and life threatening situations fleeing war, oppression, death and poverty. It would fly in the face of everything we stand for.
Unfortunately, as in previous hard times, if we don’t fight back against the message of the far-right, it will only gain momentum as they organise and capitalise on any small victory.
This is why, as workers and trade unionists, we must be loud, visible and unapologetic in our opposition to the rise of bigotry, hatred and racism. If people see their firefighters, nurses and teachers marching in opposition to the politics of hate, then we have the opportunity to very publically reject the arguments of the far right.
This is why I urge FBU Firefighters to join me in marching on 16 March, and send a clear message that the racist and fascist few do not speak in our name.
London - If you would like to attend the London march, please meet at 12pm near The Dorchester in Park Lane, W1K 1QA. If you would like more information, please email Riccardo la Torre at [email protected] or visit the event page.
Cardiff - If you would like to attend the Cardiff march, please contact Cerith Griffiths at [email protected] for more information.