One of Britain’s biggest trade unions has unanimously passed a motion calling for antisemites, including those found guilty amongst its own membership, to “face the full force of the law.”
In a move backed by the GMB’s General Secretary Gary Smith, the union, which has 600, 000 members across nearly all industrial sectors, committed itself to a zero-tolerance policy on anti-Jewish racism.
Motion 213 was backed by the union’s leadership across the country during GMB Congress in Harrogate, Yorkshire, on Monday.
It stated: “This congress strongly challenges the disturbing rise in antisemitism across the UK.
“This unacceptable behaviour and the perpetrators should be subjected to the full force of the law.
“Where such behaviour may be present from any member of GMB Union, including social media posts, our Union should take immediate action to investigate and apply appropriate measures to address this within rule.”
GMB leader Smith, who has been deeply critical of Jeremy Corbyn’s failure on antisemitism, and made a point of reaching out to Jewish Labour activists, said after the motion was passed: “Antisemitism is a scourge in our society, and the GMB is clear that we won’t tolerate it.
“We stand firm against antisemitism in this union. There is no room for hatred in our union. Those who commit it should face the full force of the law.”
In an op-ed for Jewish News, he detailed the proud history of Jewish involvement with the union.
But he also wrote: “We have to recognise antisemitism within our own ranks, and not be afraid to call it what it is. It flies in the face of our historic ties to the Jewish community – and in the face of what is right.”
Speakers in favour of the motion were applauded by delegates, including GMB Redbridge’s Stephen Jones, who warned that on occasion “anti-Zionist motivations” could stray into anti-Jewish racism.
Another speaker Unmesh Desai, a London Assembly member, warned that what started with hatred of Jewish people had historically turned into wider racist hate.
Speaker for the union’s executive committee Margaret Gregg spoke of the horror of seeing Jewish members afraid in the Labour Party under its previous leadership.
The motion on antisemitism, which was submitted by the GMB’s Redbridge branch, called for a review of current GMB policies for the handling of hate crimes and all forms of discrimination to ensure they are fit for purpose.
A motion calling for similar focus on rising Islamophobia was also passed by delegates on Monday.
On Tuesday, the Jewish Labour Movement will stage antisemitism training for union to understand the issues around rising anti-Jewish hatred.
Both Mike Katz, JLM’s national chair, and Rebecca Filer, its national organiser, will be attending the conference to conduct the training session, which is the first time the organisation have been invited into a trade union conference.
Katz told Jewish News: “The GMB have been strong allies of the JLM and Jewish Labour members in our fight against antisemitism in the party.
“Under Gary Smith’s strong, principled leadership, they are clear that their union won’t tolerate anti-Jewish racism – this is underlined by their invitation for us to come to their Congress to deliver our antisemitism training for their members.”
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.