Report from Unison black members conference

Here is a report back from Unison black members’ conference from Camden Unison’s  delegates.

The National Black Members’ Conference (NBMC) took place from Friday 19 – Sunday 21 January 2018. 

The gathering started with Regional meetings. Our regional meeting (Greater London) was well attended with all members of our delegation, Judy Frederick, Jacqui Wallace, Vino Sangarapillai, Marilyn and ‘Jare present. Hugo was also in attendance as an NEC representative for one of the Black Members’ seats supporting us. A range of subjects were discussed in addition to the normal business of introductions, conference protocols and important information and announcements for delegates and visitors from our region. 

The main conference started later in the afternoon of Friday 19 January. The usual protocols according to the standing orders were observed. We later had good inspirational speeches from guest speakers including the Lord Mayor of Liverpool and the new MP (and former Unison President) Eleanor Smith. 

The business of the conference was efficiently conducted by the Chairperson who was supported by the Vice chair. Twenty four (24) out of the 29 motions listed for debate were debated. All of the motions debated were passed almost unanimously although there were a couple of contentious motions including motion 24 (Blood donation), in light of the restrictions the Blood Service places on who can donate. There was no composite motions listed for debate at this conference. 

‘Jare spoke passionately on motion number 1 – Practical steps to involve young Black members.  He called on the conference to “get out there and encourage young people to join our fight for fairness, equality and justice”, adding that young members are the future of our union and our movement.  

Speaking on the motion – Race Equality Act – How far have we come since 1968, ‘Jare made reference to the slogans “British jobs for British people” “Americans first” and how these kind of idioms have played a part in dividing our society. He encouraged delegates to scrutinise their employers’ annual employment profile as we do in our branch. He commented that Racism is not history, it is still with us today and it is on the rise. He concluded by asking the NBMC to take seriously the call in point 3 of the motion to “Utilise reports that highlight race inequalities in the workplace to hold public bodies to account” and that colleagues should individually play their part in making this happen.  

All motion debated were well received on the conference floor.  

We also attended various workshops including “Challenging the “hostile environment” – what next?, “the workings of the Workforce Race Equality Standards (WRES)” We contributed to discussions in these workshops ensuring that Camden Unison was noticed as one of the champions in Unison Nationally especially in the area of campaigning and fighting for equality in the workplace and that matters concerning Black and Minority Ethnic background are not a add on. 

Other highlight of the conference was; 

  • The conference social evening on Saturday night which attracted a large number of delegates. You need to be there to see what is happening at this event, we therefore encourage you to register to attend the 2019 conference. 

Conclusion 

With a record attendance of over 600 delegates and visitors, we are proud to be part of this movement. We understand that this conference is the largest gathering of self – organised trade unionist group in Europe. 

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Liverpool particularly the opportunity and privilege to extend network and share experiences with members from other branches and regions even Unison staff members.  

We look forward to be of service again if called upon. 

 

Judy Frederick, Jacqui Wallace, Vino Sangarapillai, Marilyn Bramble-Litchmore, Hugo Pierre and ‘Jare Oyewole 

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