“We will fight for what is right … and Black workers are stronger in UNISON.”
That was the core message from the union’s president Maureen Le Marinel when she addressed the opening session of the union’s annual Black members’ conference in Brighton today.
“Many of you know I’m a strong supporter of self-organisation in our union,’ she told them. ”It’s a great springboard to involvement in this union.”
Turning to the government’s record, she noted that “austerity is not working.
“The sword of privatisation is being wielded even more widely than by Thatcher herself,” she continued, adding that the sell-off of probation is the maddest example and the union is fighting against it.
“Austerity stands in the way of the growth that this country needs,” said Ms Le Marinel. ”We are in the 21st century and people are relying on foodbanks.
“Statistics show that two thirds of children living in poverty are from working households.”
Ms Le Marinel praised the work of UNISON’s unique charity, There for you, and the development of a credit union network to help members.
“This government won’t help, but I’m damned sure that your union will,” she told them.
Observing that the UK has seen a recent increase in racist bullying, she added that this was caused by the toxic nature of the debate on immigration.
And Ms Le Marinel called on delegates to do what they could in this year’s European elections to ensure that the BNP is resoundingly defeated at the polls.
But recruitment remains a priority for the union after the success of the recruitment work in 2013.
“It’s when we’re fighting all these things that we should be recruiting,” she said.
“We are nothing if we are not strong in number and don’t have the density in the workplace.
“The stronger we are, the more robust we are in meeting these challenges”.
UNISON Knowledge: Race discrimination (member-only content)