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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Director of PKWA, honoured with TUC racial justice award

Fiaz Rashid, the dedicated Director of the Pakistan and Kashmir Welfare Association (PKWA), has been recognised for his unwavering commitment to addressing social inequalities. The Trade Union Congress (TUC) awarded Mr Rashid the Racial Justice award, acknowledging his lifelong dedication to eradicating societal disparities.

Mr Rashid’s journey as an advocate for equality and justice began decades ago, marked by his active involvement in various trade unions such as NALGO, NATFHE, UCU, and the NEU. Throughout his career, Mr Rashid held numerous officer roles, consistently prioritising issues of race and equality. Notably, he became the first Black regional officer for NALGO in the 1980s, championing intersectional issues.

Currently, Mr Rashid plays an integral role in both national and regional committees of the TUC and NEU, tirelessly campaigning for inclusive practices and advocating for equality within union activities.

Beyond his union work, Mr Rashid is renowned for his community activism, particularly in championing the marginalised and excluded. As a founding member and longtime director of PKWA in Batley, Mr Rashid has spearheaded initiatives to provide essential social, welfare, health, and education services to disadvantaged communities.

Moreover, Mr Rashid has been instrumental in establishing various equality-promoting services and initiatives, including the South Asian Consortium of Community Centres, Batley City Challenge, Awaaz Newspaper, and South Asian Arts.

Upon receiving the TUC Racial Justice award, Mr Rashid expressed gratitude while acknowledging the pressing challenges faced in the fight for racial justice. He emphasised the importance of solidarity and collective action in combating bigotry and inequality, both locally and globally.

He told Asian Standard Kirklees: “I was delighted to be bestowed with the TUC Racial Justice award, so thank you to the TUC for awarding me; and to say how honoured I was that my union, the National Education Union (NEU), nominated me for it in the first place.

“No matter how worthy a person is, it is always humbling to be recognised for your work and your achievements. I know there are many across the union movement who are at least as deserving as me of receiving this award; so, thank you.”

Mr Rashid’s went on to underscore the urgent need to confront systemic injustices and protect universal human rights. He lamented the necessity of such awards in today’s world, highlighting the alarming trend of regression in the pursuit of racial equality.

He said: “These are difficult times for Racial Justice. Equality, inclusion, diversity and justice are under attack here in the UK and in many parts of the world. Voices of bigotry and division are given air space and mainstream credibility, and our political leaders try to dance on the head of a pin to define what is or is not a racial slur, depending upon who makes the slur, how powerful they are, and whether the slur is against the correct racial minority. It is depressing!

“Globally, it feels to me as if we are marching backwards to a time when theories and beliefs of the racial inferiority and the cultural backwardness of others is becoming somehow legitimised. Most appalling of all, it seems as if the concept of basic and universal human rights is being quietly subverted without so much as a squeak of protest from our free and fair media.

He went on to add that: “the work of insisting upon racial justice is more pressing than ever. I would like to say I am pleased to receive this award, but I am not. It is depressing that such an award was ever necessary; and it is utterly devastating that day by day, it is becoming more necessary.”

As he concluded, Mr Rashid reiterated his commitment to standing in solidarity with oppressed communities worldwide, emphasising the ongoing struggle for racial justice. His tireless dedication and impassioned advocacy serve as a beacon of hope in the ongoing fight against inequality and discrimination.

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