Supporting Black Communities

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2012 National Black Members' Conference
21 September 2011
Carried as Amended

Conference pledges its solidarity with the communities and cities affected by the disturbances in August 2011. Conference condemns the widespread damage to property, homes, small businesses – many owned by Black people – and employees losing their workplaces and jobs. The disturbances devastated communities that could ill afford it.

However, Conference notes that the stereotyping of entire groups of people, particularly Black people and knee-jerk reactions arising in the aftermath of the disturbances will do nothing to support those worst affected or prevent future problems. The response by the courts has led to an 8% rise in the number of children in jail. The contrast between the treatment of those taking part in the disturbances and those of the bankers who brought our economies and our livelihoods to the brink of disaster is striking. Conference notes that the disturbances were triggered by the death of Mark Duggan. Conference believes that recent events are reflective of the racism experienced by Black people within the criminal justice system.

Recent figures following the disturbances last August show that 1in 2 Black young people are unemployed compared to 1in 5 White young people.

Black Youth & Community Workers, Black Voluntary Sector workers all talked about how the cuts in services were especially hitting the Black community the hardest and therefore the potential for young Black people being drawn into desperate actions seen last August in London, Manchester, Salford, Birmingham, Woverhampton and Nottingham due to lack of education after being excluded from primary and secondary schools, was an obvious result.

Conference believes that the causes of the disturbances are complex but that any explanation that does not address the high unemployment, lack of hope and public service cuts being experienced by all communities is fundamentally flawed. It is self evident that much of the worst disruption took place in some of the poorest boroughs in the country. Analysis by the Guardian has found that 41% of those suspected of having taken part in the disturbances live in the 10% most deprived places of England and the majority of the areas where suspects live are classified as deprived. 66% of those areas have become poorer between 2007 and 2010.

The gap between rich and poor in the UK is higher than in three quarters of other OECD countries. Unemployment in the UK currently stands at 2.51 million, rising by 80,000 between April to July. Much of this rise was driven by young people’s unemployment and public service job cuts. Young Black people are disproportionately represented in these figures. Research by IPPR has concluded that almost all areas in which the disturbances took place have unemployment and youth unemployment which are higher than the national average. Previous research by IPPR had found that a shocking 48% of young Black people were unemployed.

Conference is alarmed by the fact that unemployment rates among Black young people are far higher than for the rest of the population and is currently rising at a faster rate than for any other group.

The Con-Dem Government’s policies of cuts to public services has not only driven the economy to the ground but has cut support that vulnerable communities depend on in difficult times. Conference believes that defending public services is a vital issue for Black communities in the UK.

Conference calls upon the National Black Members Committee to work with the NEC to ensure that:

1.UNISON’s ‘Million Voices’ campaign continues to highlight the impact of cuts to the most vulnerable and deprived communities in the UK;

2.Campaigning and organising within Black communities is strengthened;

3.Produce resources to support the work of activists with young people;

4.Raise awareness of, and campaign to end the over-representation of, and discrimination suffered by Black people in the criminal justice system.

5.There are resources developed with the new service groups for Police & Community with a clear strategy for regional and national campaigning involving Young Black Members working in those service groups and Black Members who work in the Community & Voluntary sector.

This development strategy must include the following components:-

Training for branch Young Members Officers

Mentoring for Young Black Members in branch’s and regional structures

6.The NBMC seeks to obtain committed support from the NEC to promote this strategy in partnership with the other self organised groups throughout all relevant UNISON structures so that Young Black Members can be effectively supported to be future trade union activists and community and political leaders. This would take effect from the end of NBM Conference 2012.

7. Black members in Police & Justice branch’s and regional structures are supported to become more active in the campaigning for Police Complaints Enquiries.