Today UNISON presented Dr Neville Lawrence, father of Stephen Lawrence (pictured), with honorary union membership for life.
Presenting the membership at UNISON’s 2023 national delegate conference in Liverpool, UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea described how the union has had ‘a long history’ of working with Stephen Lawrence’s parents, Dr Neville Lawrence and Baroness Doreen Lawrence, who have both received honorary union memberships.
Mr Lawrence recounted to delegates how the trade union movement was fundamental to his family’s battle for justice over the murder of their son, Stephen Lawrence.
“Black members came to my house one morning and said ‘we will help you, we need you to get involved in the union.’
“I remember when I had just come to the country and in order to get to work in those days, if you didn’t have a union card, you could not get through those gates. And there I was again, going to the unions to ask them to help me to get the people who had murdered my son convicted.
“I went to a conference in Blackpool, and we took leaflets. A man had told me: ‘If you come to the conference, there will be members of different unions inside the conference, and they will take your request all over England’.
“I am standing here 30 years later because of you, and all the other different unions who have been with us over the past 30 years.”
Mr Lawrence explained that he ‘did not realise what racism was until I came to this country’.
“I knew there were differences between races, but I didn’t know that hatred could be so bad that you would see an innocent person standing at a bus stop, waiting to go home, and then decide to kill him.
“My life has been turned upside down, and I am saying to you: without the help of all the different unions who have been by my family’s side, maybe I wouldn’t be standing here.
“Thank you very much for being with us. I hope that you continue to support my family.”
Mr Lawrence’s address was met with a standing ovation from conference delegates.