“Employers in the Private and Public sector are intimidated by me”

“Employers in the Private and Public sector are intimidated by me”

Having worked in unions for over seventeen years, Leeds based Mizan Muqit is today the first Asian General Secretary of any British Trade Union.

Equality for Workers Union (EFWU) are an independent UK based workers union, working to change employer attitudes and support all workers equally. Mizan alongside his colleague, co-founded EFWU two years ago after working most of his career at BT and then O2 as a union official.

Mizan Muqit
Mizan Muqit

Born in the town of Kirkcaldy, Fife, in the East coast of Scotland, Mizan moved to Leeds in 1995 to study a post graduate in HR and then graduate at the city’s university. It was Leeds where Mizan decided to forge his career as he detected an up-and-coming city that would present him with more opportunities rather than returning to Scotland.

As his career progressed, he also witnessed forms of racial discrimination in the work place. But he quickly realised that these people needed help who were experiencing difficulties at the workplace mainly due to their race and religion. It was then that he decided to help others who were not aware of the help that was out there as he noticed many victims chose to stay silent as they were afraid of losing their jobs.

Speaking to Urban Echo, Mizan, 44, states: “My development was stifled by the other union for years that I worked with. Since I have set up EFWU, a high majority of union officials from the other union have not congratulated me. Some senior union officials said that I was going to fail. That made me more determined. It took a year of intensive interviews and checks by government officials to approve my application for a trade union. My co- founder and I spent thousands of pounds for the initial costs of creating a British trade union.

hgvhgv“Now, employers are intimidated by me as at times I have to be assertive and robust with them. I am a strong believer that knowledge is power. People do not know their rights at work and are not taken seriously.”

I have seen union member’s bonuses taken away, people developing disabilities during work due to the stress caused by employers. These are low paid jobs for people have no choice but to be bullied and victimised. My job is to put an end to this and let working people out there know that you should not have to endure any form of bullying and victimisation at work. Nobody should. “

Asked about EFWU, he continues: “We welcome everyone regardless of race, religion and ethnicity to our union. I have represented thousands of union members in Yorkshire and beyond.

We will support them. We will go over and beyond to help our union members. This union has been a dream. My aim is unionise companies in the public and private sector. Many companies in the private sector are not unionised. They don’t want a union because a union would demand better pay and a better working environment.

FullSizeRender“There is also a lack of awareness about trade unions. People are scared that if they approach a Union, they will be fired. By law, that cannot happen.

So what is a Trade Union and what do they do?

“For people not familiar with trade unions, we provide advice and information about employment law, discrimination acts, health and safety in the workplace and most importantly your employment rights. The UK Employment Equality Law is a body of law which legislates against prejudice-based actions in the workplace. As an integral part of UK Labour Law it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because they have one of the ‘protected characteristics’, such as age, disability, gender, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation,” explains Mizan.

“Regarding discrimination, direct discrimination is treating a person less favourably than another who lacks the protected characteristic, is always unjustified and unlawful, except when there is a ‘occupational requirement’ which is a legitimate business justification accepted by a court. Indirect discrimination is also unlawful, and this exists when an employer applies a policy to their workplace that affects everyone equally, but it has a skewed impact on people with a protected characteristic when there is no good business justification for that practice. Other forms of discrimination include harassment and victimisation which are equally illegal.”

image1Mizan’s commitment to EFWU has seen his union grow to hundreds of union members in a short period of time and the union is growing currently at a rapid rate and word of mouth is spreading around the district rapidly about his and his co-founder’s abilities to bring employers to justice often resulting in tribunals where employers are forced to compensate and make changes to their internal policies. It is an individual’s legal right to join any union of their choice.”

But with his responsibilities and daily fight for workers’ rights and equality, Mizan knows that his role also brings with it his detractors. As he concludes, “I am probably one the most hated person by organisations in the public and private sector.

“But it does not bother me one bit. As long as I can keep fighting and continue to help change people’s lives for the better, I will continue to do so. I will never be in the pockets of employers”

If you feel you have been bullied or suffer from any other form of discrimination at a workplace, you can contact EFWU on www.efwu.org, email: info@efwu.org or by telephone on 0113 336 5261. EFWU are the first union to offer 24 hours and 7 days a week service including all bank holidays.

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