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In 1966, Asquith Xavier became the first black guard at Euston station, overturning a "colour bar" which prevented black workers from being employed in certain grades. His struggle was not the first that exposed racism and discrimination in the hiring policy of railway companies, nor the last.
54 years on from Asquith's successful struggle, this public meeting, hosted jointly between Tubeworker, a socialist industrial bulletin for London Underground workers, and Off the Rails, a platform for rank-and-file rail workers, will examine the history, including complex and often contradictory role our unions and their predecessors have played. Union activists and some officials have often played heroic roles in fighting colour bars and racism in our industry, but in some places, our unions also have a history of complicity that needs to be reckoned with and confronted. The meeting will discuss what we can learn for struggles against racism and discrimination in our workplaces and society today.
Speakers include Janine Booth, chair of RMT Disabled Members' Advisory Committee and former NEC member (2011-2013), and Walé Agunbiadé, secretary of RMT East London Rail branch and anti-racism activist.