Creating, building and strengthening Black community links

Back to all Motions

2018 National Black Members' Conference
12 September 2017

Conference, notes the damaging decline in numbers and workplace density as a result of job losses across various sector groups, disproportionately in local government where we have had a high concentration of Black member employment. This has reduced our effectiveness in the workplace, impact in collective bargaining negotiations and most importantly member engagement.

However, despite the 80,000 job losses in local government, UNISON is to be applauded on successfully maintaining its membership figures and Black members are still said to be ‘most likely to join a union’.

Nevertheless, for Black members the issue of racism and discrimination still prevails and conference notes a continued trend of research that reflects some of the barriers Black members face by lack of engagement and representation across the public/private sectors in our regions and branches.

Encouragingly, the recent general election campaign, showed overwhelming support of Jeremy Corbyn and a more socialist leadership for the country demonstrating an eagerness of members to become involved in the democratic process, campaigning and participation in the decision making which affects their lives .

Throughout the year our National Executive Council General political fund support branch regional and national initiatives that encourage and involve our members in the community and in their wider communities via a vast range of diverse equality events.

These numerous events have helped increased membership, interest in the union and positive feedback as to UNISON’s visibility. The events provide an opportunity to discover exactly what the union is doing for members, and how we as a union can be responsive to the real issues which concern them.

With deeply concerning issues for Black members which have never been more important, since the Brexit decision was taken. According to Home Office figures, of the 386,474 stops and searches made last year 58,397 were of people who self-identified as being Black or Black British. This is the equivalent of 31.4 stop and searches for every 1,000 Black people in the UK compared to white people for whom there were only 4.9 stop and searches for every 1,000 people. With evidence of racial bias in the criminal justice system, Black men are seven times more likely to be affected by ‘stop and search’, Deaths in police custody, the rise in racism and attacks specifically affecting women and children and elderly in our Black communities.

Following the Manchester bombing where figures for reported Race Hate crimes rose by 500 percent; the tragic deaths at Finsbury Mosque and acid attacks of young Asian people, Black African Caribbean men in the mental health system where unnecessary punitive force is applied such as tasers and the completely avoidable deaths at Grenfell Tower have served only to highlight the overall feeling of distrust and neglect felt by many in the Black community who insist that “Black Lives do Matter”.

We must continue to connect with and support our members affected by such events by building sustainable community engagement. Becoming more visible to our members offering support and allowing them to see the wider benefits of trade union involvement.

Conference therefore calls upon the National Black Members’ Committee to:

1)Where possible engage in specific work to connect with local Black community groups who do work in support of our members in their communities;

2)Explore how we might do some joint work with campaigning groups to support and follow up on the rise in racism on our streets and offer practical initiative to members who are affected;

3)Explore how surveys can be undertaken within the Black membership in different Service Groups to document experiences of racism within work and the wider community to provide a basis for further action and support;

4)Continue to support the yearly Anti-racism rally in London, Wales and Scotland;

5)To recognise the effectiveness of regional committee meetings in the community and political engagement of members and its ability to assist recruitment and consider reinstating regional Black member self organised group meetings where these reductions have occurred;

6)To encourage branches to continue with the Black member engagement events supported by the GPF process regionally and nationally at a local level in order to extend the reach and impact of building such community links to strengthen our union.