Building and Strengthening Black Community links

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Conference
2019 Community Conference and Seminar
Date
8 November 2018
Decision

Conference notes the national Black members’ committee ‘Creating, Building, and Strengthening Black Community link motion was debated with much support from other delegates at the 2018 Community conference and was carried along with the amendment submitted by the Community Service Group Executive.

However the National Black Member’s Committee is concerned that limited work has commenced and therefore is seeking to further address some of the fundamental issues that continue to impact on the Black community.

The damaging decline in numbers and workplace density is as a result of many housing associations merging. This has resulted in more job losses disproportionately in a community where there is a high concentration of Black workers. This has reduced our effectiveness in the workplace, our impact in collective bargaining negotiations and most importantly member engagement.

However, despite the job losses in our communities, 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 member 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 NEC General political fund supports 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 increase 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 increasingly 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%; the tragic deaths at Finsbury Mosque and acid attacks of young Asian people, 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. By being more visible to our members and offering support which allows them to see the wider benefits of trade union involvement.

Conference therefore calls upon the Community Service Group Executive to work with the National Black Members Committee:

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

2. To seek to explore and undertake statistical survey of racism within the work place for further action and support in the housing and community sector.

3. And with Labour link and NEC in recognising the significance in retaining and supporting membership and self organisation groups in the community sector.