Celebrating our Black disabled caucus

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2019 National Disabled Members' Conference
11 July 2019
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that the Black caucus within our National Disabled Members Self Organised Group (SOG) reflects our belief that under-represented groups within our union and within society should have a space to organise and to agree their own priorities so that they can feed in to the work of the SOG and ensure that their voice is heard.

The Black caucus has proved a great example of this approach and the benefits it produces for the union as a whole. As in the rest of society, there are often barriers to Black disabled members participation in their branches. So for many Black disabled people, their first contact is with the caucus. Attending caucus meetings and learning that UNISON campaigns on the issues that affect Black disabled people has given many of our members the confidence to become more involved in their branch and region. There are many examples of Black members who have taken the caucus route to union activism and this should be celebrated.

Many Black caucus members have gone on to take up activist roles in their branches, such as steward, equality officer, welfare officer, Chair and Branch Secretary. The caucus has been a stepping stone for these members, developing their activism and their understanding of trade unionism.

In addition, at least four members of the Black caucus have become chairs of the National Disabled Members Committee, using skills and experience they gained through their involvement in the caucus. Others have also gone on to become chairs and vice chairs of other national committees.

Conference notes that accountability is important to the caucus, which meets three times a year to agree motions to conference; to agree amendments to conference; and to elect two representatives to the Black caucus seats on the National Disabled Members Committee. At all three meetings issues of common concern to the Black disabled members are discussed and there is feedback from the two representatives on the national committee as regards the work they have been doing. The Black caucus reps also produce a written report that is included in the National Disabled Members Annual Report.

Conference further notes that the success of the Black caucus is also reflected in our LGBT+, women’s and Deaf (BSL) caucuses. Conference believes that the UNISON approach to caucuses incorporates an understanding of intersectionality and of our rich and multiple identities as Black, women, Deaf and LGBT+ disabled people.

UNISON has always believed that self organisation and a clear and accountable voice within the union’s structures is the best and most effective way to ensure diverse and under-represented voices are heard. Conference therefore re-affirms its commitment to this core value of our union and to the further development and growth of the caucuses within the Disabled members SOG as this is how the under-represented voices of those experiencing discrimination can be heard and privilege can be addressed.

Conference therefore calls on the National Disabled Members Committee to:

1)Raise awareness of what the Black caucus has achieved and the benefits of caucuses to our Disabled Members SOG and the broader union

2)Continue to support and celebrate the Black caucus as a route into activism for Black disabled members

3)Work with the National Black Members Committee to seek to understand the barriers to Black disabled members participation in their branches and to identify potential solutions

4)Actively promote our caucuses and the national network days and encourage caucus development at regional level to increase participation of under-represented disabled members in regional disabled members self-organisation

5)Continue to robustly support our caucus structures as the best way of ensuring the voices of our under-represented members are heard