Death of the Racial Equality Movement

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2016 Community Service Group Conference
4 November 2015
Carried as Amended

This conference notes the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Race Relations Act in 2015 and the 40th anniversary of the 1976 Race Relations Act next year. Conference notes that the 1976 Act was instrumental to the development of racial equality for Black communities and Black trade unionists in that in addition to the definitions of discrimination outlined it also made provision for Section 44 funding for local race equality work. This enabled resourcing of race equality projects such as those tackling racial harassment and unequal provision of local public services. This also enabled the resourcing of race discrimination casework giving access to legal assistance in the community to challenge racial discrimination. This work had a direct effect on UNISON members and their families.

With the 1976 Act establishing the Commission for Racial Equality there was a growth in these services across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In 2004, there were around 200 organisations in the United Kingdom in the British Federation of Racial Equality Councils. Many of the workers in these organisations were UNISON members.

This conference notes that many of these services had funding reduced or eliminated in 2006 after the Equality and Human Rights Commission ceased funding legal projects. This together with massive cuts in local authority funding has resulted in situations where there are barely 40 organisations that were historic Racial Equality Councils. This has led to many Black Community Sector workers losing their jobs. In addition to this massive cuts in the Black voluntary sector have compounded racial inequalities in communities. This has an even more substantial effect for Black women’s organisations, Black LGBT organisations, Black youth organisations and Black organisations for disabled people.

This conference is concerned about the absence of focus by government and public and community services on race equality particularly given the growing inequality for UNISON Black Members, their families and communities. Successive UK Governments have signed up to initiatives to eliminate racial discrimination such as the United Nations World Conference Against Racism Durban Programme of Action yet we see little improvement in the identified problem areas of employment, education, cultural development, health, housing, criminal justice system, economic development and political engagement. All of these areas would also lead to an increase in workers (especially Black workers) and UNISON Community Sector members.

Conference calls on the Community Service Group Executive to:

1)Engage with the NBMC to highlight this issue and develop briefings and campaign resources for branches and regional Black members committees to support race equality legislation and the racial equality movement.

2)Encourage Black members’ attendance and higher visibility at the National Community Seminar and Conference encourage Black Members to self organise a Black Caucus for Black Community Sector workers to discuss their issues

3)Liaise with the UNISON Labour Link executive to highlight these issues with UNISON Labour Link MP’s.