Black activists need facility time

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2007 National Black Members' Conference
10 January 2007

Conference notes that while UNISON faces the challenge of negotiating facility time per se, Black members and activists face additional barriers to participation.

Conference believes we cannot all continue to juggle work, home and trade union activities without adequate facility time and paid time off for duties and activities that support the work of challenging racism and race discrimination in the workplace.

Branches need to be supported by regional and national structures (officers and National Executive Council -NEC) to develop facility agreements within their branch development plans that recognise the additional barriers faced by Black members as they strive to become active in UNISON.

All representatives on branch, regional and national structures, especially Regional Black Members’ Committees should have facility time and paid time off to attend and participate in the way that branch and regional convenors are able to. Branches need to see the work that Black members do in regional and national structures as empowering and benefiting the branch and all its members.

Conference asks that the National Black Members’ Committee (NBMC) seek to: with the NEC and national structures to develop a collective, region-wide approach to Black members’ facility agreements, using the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000;

2.get a commitment from the NEC to publicise findings at all UNISON national conferences beyond June 2007;

3.get support of the Regional Committees and Councils to work with them to provide quarterly reports on successful facility agreements that lead to an increase in the participation of Black members, especially from under-represented service groups;

4.organise mentoring seminars with Black tutors (ideally women) from within UNISON and the Trades Union Congress on ‘Black women & trade unionism’;

5.get the NEC to ensure that all regions include in the Regional Business Plan a commitment to fund these quarterly Black women members’ mentoring schemes;

6.engage the relevant NEC sub-committee to ensure Black lay tutors in UNISON are given opportunities to work with, and support, other Black women to become more active and increase Black women’s participation. work with the National Executive Council to develop a clear policy/guideline for Black members; work with the National Executive Council to encourage regions and branches to develop facility time agreements not only for stewards but for members who wish to attend self organised group meetings; work with the National Executive Council to collect a database of branches that may already have facility time agreements with a view to sharing best practice; back any progress to Conference 2008.