International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination - ICTU and Ibec statement

March 21, 2023

To mark International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, ICTU and Ibec have issued a joint statement to stand against racism and to promote inclusive workplaces.

Danny McCoy, CEO of Ibec said “An open and tolerant society is irrefutably a key driver for social and economic wellbeing and success. Experience has shown that the diverse workforces that underpin the Irish labour market have helped to strengthen talent pools, boost productivity, and increase creativity and innovation, all of which have contributed to Ireland’s competitiveness and growth in recent decades. Despite this, research tells us that we have more work to do to ensure our workplaces are welcoming to a wide culturally diverse community of individuals. We must remain vigilant to racism, harassment and racial discrimination and ensure that it has no place in our workplaces and that it is not allowed to be part of any narrative or to undermine the positive actions undertaken. To do this requires us not to be complacent, to listen and to address attitudes and behaviours, and to look at our policies and practices to ensure our workplaces are proactively embedding diversity, equity and inclusion.“

Owen Reidy, ICTU General Secretary added “There are a small number of very vocal groups here organising to sew their hate and division amongst our communities and workplaces. We are confident that the vast majority of Irish people do not support them and stand for an inclusive and democratic Ireland.  We commit to building solidarity between working people of all backgrounds and to work towards ensuring that their message never gains mainstream traction in our communities and workplaces. Further investment in workplace integration can help make our workplaces more effective roles for wider society.”

In the joint statement, Ibec and ICTU said we now have a very diverse labour market with migrants and people from ethnic minorities playing key roles across the economy and our public services, particularly our health service. 

We have made huge strides in terms of equality legislation and the imminent publication of a new National Anti-Racism Action Plan with a number of key workplace initiatives recommended.  

Despite these positive developments, research has shown that we have much to work on to enhance the experience of migrants and ethnic minorities in our workplaces. A 2021 IHREC report, points to Travellers, Roma, Migrants and Refugees being more likely to face restrictions in accessing the labour market; experience barriers in occupational attainment; have lower pay, reduced job security and poor working conditions; and are more exposed to work-related inequality and discrimination. The Traveller Community has the highest unemployment rate in the workforce at almost 80%. While a recent Pavee Point and Maynooth University report finds that many Roma face significant inequalities in the workplace and points to actions needed to stop racism, discrimination, and possible exploitation.

To mark this week’s focus on solidarity with the people struggling against racism, we recommit ourselves to eliminating racism and discrimination in our workplaces and recall our framework for promoting integrated workplaces developed during the first national action plan against racism. This declared that Integrated Workplaces:

•    are free from discrimination and harassment;

•    are welcoming to all migrant workers and other minority ethnic groups including Traveller and Roma employees and customers or service users;

•    acknowledge and provide for cultural and linguistic diversity among employees and customers as well as make adjustments for diversity among all migrant and minority ethnic employees;

•    take practical steps in order to achieve full equality in practice for all migrant workers and minority ethnic employees;

•    communicate a message promoting greater equality within the wider culturally diverse community served by the business.

We commit to using this framework to contribute towards securing better employment outcomes for migrants and ethnic minorities in our labour market.