Black members mentoring scheme in local government

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2019 Local Government Service Group Conference
21 February 2019

With the continued cuts to local government and the disproportionate impact on Black workers, the national Black members committee are seeking to explore the opportunity for young Black members to be paired with more experienced activists to enhance the work of the union in the ‘Year of Young Workers’

Conference, UNISON has about 63,000 young members, of whom approximately 8 percent are Black members.

However, there is a noticeable and worrying shortage of young Black members and activists in UNISON and more importantly in Local Government, where Black workers have borne the brunt of redundancies and evidence suggesting Black workers posts being downgraded or on zero hour contracts.

We recognise that more needs to be done to retain and recruit young Black members and to encourage them to become involved at all levels of the union.

In 2019, the year of UNISON’s campaign ‘Year of Young Workers’, this is a great opportunity to explore this initiative.

Young Black members are often dealing with discrimination and racism in their workplace and can sometimes be isolated as a consequence of these issues. It is therefore, imperative that we do all that we can to recruit and support young Black members to ensure that their voice is heard and to increase representation within our structures.

Role models within our communities can be a useful resource in recruiting young Black members by mentoring them. Black members who have established themselves within UNISON and local government can offer support, encouragement and guidance to young Black members.

This can be achieved through a mentoring scheme aiding new members in becoming more active starting at branch and regional level. Giving young members a list of reliable contacts that they can use will increase activism. It will also help bridge any gaps in communication as each member can be assigned to a specific mentor who can inform them of how the union works, where to find training opportunities etc. This can give young Black members the confidence to become activists.

Conference calls on the local government service group executive to:

1)Work with the national Black members committee and explore the opportunity to devise strategies for recruiting young Black members and consider ways of promoting the training available to young Black members in the service;

2) Explore and discuss how a mentoring programme could be developed at branch and regional level to target young Black members;

3)Encourage regional and branch Black members and the young member’s forum to have the recruitment of young Black members on their agenda and work programmes and explore the potential to develop a sign up register for experienced activists to become part of a mentoring scheme to help young Black members get more involved;

4)Continue to support UNISON’s work in recruitment campaigns of young members, especially young Black members in 2019 and beyond.