Year of Black Workers 2023

Connecting Generations and Improving Workplaces through Legacy and Change

Whilst progress in the workplace for the Black worker in terms of tackling structural, systemic, and institutional racism has been evident, it has been painfully slow. In 2022, London CNN Business reported that 41% of Black workers in the UK have suffered racism in the workplace in the last five years. 52% of these workers were 25-34 years and a staggering 58% were 18-24 years.  The costs of racism and racial inequalities in all its forms in the workplace, go far beyond the pound and penny. The negative impact on Black workers’ mental health, self-confidence, and the continued promotion of in work poverty as many Black workers must take on two or more additional jobs to make ends meet.

However, we know that Black workers are well placed, due to their lower level employment status, to disrupt economies and challenge such inequalities through collective action. From the fight against the colour ban at Cardiff Docks in 1936, the Bristol bus boycott of 1963, the 1965 strike at Courtaulds Red Scar Mill in Preston, to the recognition of the Black Worker as integral to the trade union movement by the TUC in 2001, through its rule change to membership, making it a condition that unions fight and promote equality.

UNISON’S NBMC reflects on the victories of those giants whose shoulders we stand on and we recognise the great work that is still to be done. We have taken up the mantle to ensure that generations to come can build on even stronger foundations, but more so, that they are not facing the same struggles.

We have decided to make 2023 the Year of Black Workers, YOBW 2023. We will reflect and celebrate the works of those Black workers gone before us and drive home the message that trade unions in the 21st century are stronger with Black workers. We will work with our branches, within and across regions to develop, promote and fulfil campaigns that hold employers and policymakers to account in tackling workplace racism and racial inequalities. There will be a strong focus on working with our sector partners to promote campaigns such as the Ethnicity Pay Gap, Modern Day Slavery Training, and the TUC Anti-Racist Manifesto.

There will be various events throughout the year to mark the Year of Black Workers. These events will be educational, informative, and seek to capture the day to day lived experiences of Black workers. The YOBW 2023 is also about celebrating the great achievements in the workplaces by Black workers as we shout about our successes.

The launch of the YOBW will be at our National Black members conference in Edinburgh, we hope to see you there. We invite regions and branches to seize this opportunity, connect and work with Black members, support the development and support of Black Self Organised groups within branches and together we will be Establishing Legacy to Generate Change.

Download the Year of Black Workers leaflet

Kemba Hadaway-Morgan, Cymru Wales Black Members Self- Organised delegate to the NBMC

Annette Heslop, Greater London Region, NBMC