Bargaining and campaigning for race equality

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2019 National Black Members' Conference
12 September 2018

Conference notes that The Race Relations Act came into force on 8th December 1965 in Britain, to promote non-discrimination and equality however fifty one years after its creation we note a lack of significant progress in society as members continue to cite numerous blatant examples of racism in our society and workplaces.

The equality act came into force in 2010 but the commitment and promise of a fairer society and equality for Black people was closely followed by the closure of the government department dedicated to dealing with race equality(CRE) , merging it with other equality strands to create the Equality and Human Rights Commission. However, within just five years of the formation of the new organisation it saw a 75% reduction in funding, a strong indicator to all of the new government emphasis around race equality.

Further, the toxic debate played out in the media regarding immigration and a Home Secretary (Theresa May at that time ) who promised to create a hostile environment for immigrants, played no small part in the increase in reported incidents of race hate crimes, said to have increased by 500% following BREXIT, and more recent extremist terror attacks. This environment of hostility started by Theresa May and continued with the policies from her government has continued to have a negative impact on our members in the workplace. There is a growing level of inequality borne out in workplace experiences of discrimination against Black workers.

Conference, we know that leaving it to the country’s leadership to change things for the better is pointless and we look instead to people such as Claudia Jones, Bernie Grant, Gloria Mills and our own National Black members committee as our example that persistence can deliver.

But even persistence is useless if it is directed to the wrong place, we must make grass roots members branches and regions recognise that neglecting to negotiate around race is perpetuating the unequal society and urge them to put race on the agenda, as without it nothing will change for Black members of our union.

We applaud the union’s work which has been done to resist the advance of far right organisations and Stop Trump coalitions. Conference notes the numerous high profile campaigns to Save the health service, school support staff, police staff, ambulance staff, to save youth services, prevent service closures , libraries day centres redundancies and job losses, however this has not assisted the additional circumstances of Black members who employed in these fields and others, face the underlying issues of disproportionate over representation in disciplinaries, redundancies, face bullying, victimisation , are passed over for promotion and in many councils are employed well below a representative percentage level.

We therefore call on the National Black Members Committee:

1)To seek to review the bargaining record of the various Service Group Executives with respect to race equality, with a remit to amend work plans to incorporate race inequality;

2)To note the recognition of institutionalised racism within organisational structures as a key negotiating and bargaining tool and to encourage the sector groups bargaining structures to respond accordingly;

3)To seek to review the union’s campaigns with respect to race inequality in the workplace, seeking response and action to address and implement race inequality as a key campaign;

4)To report back on all the above to 2020 National Black Members Conference