STUC Black Workers Conference Condemns James
Watson's Racist Comments
By Sofi Taylor NEC
STUC Black Workers Committee
moved a statement on behalf of the delegates
from various trade unions to condemn the racist
comments made by the eminent DNA scientist
The statement was moved by Habib
Hashmi of EIS, who chaired the 11th STUC Black
Workers Conference on 20-21st October 2007,
in Perth. David Olwa UNISON seconded this
The conference invited many
guest speakers among these were:
· John Hulbert- Provost of
Perth Kinross Council, who welcomed the conference
· Professor Geoff Palmer- Chair
of Edinburgh and Lothian Race Equality Council.
Professor Palmer spoke on the history of the
Slave trade and its implication for Scotland.
· Morag Alexander- Scotland
Commissioner Equality and Human Rights Commission
outlined the priorities of the new commission
which are: building a credible and independent
organisation, mapping and analysing the key
battle grounds, improving life opportunities
and experiences for BME Communities and developing
· Jenny Duncan- Chairperson,
STUC Youth Committee reflected the similarity
of the concerns of young members and the conference
· Bashir Ahmad- MSP who recalled
his journey into politics and encouraged the
delegates to become active.
· Elspeth Bettany- STUC Disabled
Workers' Committee, linking the work of the
Disabled Members Committee to the concerns
of black members.
· Tricia MacLaren-Chair, STUC
Women's Committee shared the work of the women
committee with conference.
· Grahame Smith, General Secretary
STUC welcomed the input of black workers'
committee and shared concerns as well as the
achievements of the Congress.
· Phil McGarry- President of
the STUC reminded the delegates that the wealth
of Glasgow was built upon this horrific human
trade and we cannot be too complacent about
47 delegates from 13 trade unions
attended the conference. Sofi Taylor led 14
strong UNISON delegates. 16 motions (including
one composite) were moved and debated at the
conference. UNISON delegates Tamara Mhura
and David Olwa were successful, as no elections
were required for the Black Workers Committee
positions. Georgia Cruickshank, GMB, went
unopposed for the General Council Women's
On General seat, Satnam Ner,
Prospect was elected. The vote of thanks was
moved by Sofi Taylor and seconded by Satnam
Ner. All UNISON delegates played a very active
role at the conference. Among the UNISON delegates
Patricia Agu, Jerome Rueda and Zia Hussain
were first time speakers.
Also at the conference Zaffir
Hakim made a DVD presentation One Workplace
Equal Rights Project. The fringe meeting at
the conference were facilitated by UNISON
Scottish Equality Officer, Eileen Dinning
and National Race Equality Officer, Pav Akhtar,
STUC Zaffir Hakim and "Unite's T&G Scotland
Section", Women Officer Elaine Dougall.
Race Row Professor Resigns
The DNA pioneer professor James
Watson has resigned from his post as chancellor
of Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory in New York
State. The move follows the race row that
engulfed his visit to London last week as
a result of his comments suggesting that black
people were less intelligent than whites.
The row led to his decision to cut short the
lecture tour promoting his autobiography and
left him fighting to save his reputation.
On Thursday, his employers announced that
he would be suspended as a result of his comments.
Dave Prentis, UNISON's general secretary and
STUC Black Workers support this call.
Congratulations to you all. We have
had another eventful year. It was
at the SBMC Policy weekend in Dundee
that SBMC streamlined an action plan
to achieve its priorities and objectives.
It was unity among us and the team
effort, which enabled us to deliver.
I am grateful to all the members of
team SBMC 2006-07 for their commitment
to what we achieved for the first
time in the SBMC history.
Our achievements can be summed up
· Continuous increase in our numbers.
· Setting up of 3 Black Self-Organisation
Groups in branches. Quality service
to our members
· Developing Shop Stewards
· Active participation in Consultations/Conferences
· Strong contributions to the NBMC
· Successful Training Weekend
· Building on our strengths
This year Afshan Fairley, Ravi Nathan
and Bernard Kamya have taken time
out due to work / family commitments
- SBMC will miss them dearly.
At our AGM on 17th November 2007,
many new members will be contesting
SBMC elections. I am sure with your
vote their success will makeus even
stronger to take on the future challenges.
I look forward to seeing you at Our
AGM, in Edinburgh.
Chair SBMC 2006-07
Editor's Wee Note
UNISON black members in Scotland
have continued to grow in strength
during this year and deserve congratulations
for their continued support of this
Special thanks go to all those members
who have submitted articles in the
past publications. The newsletter
has continuously covered activities
within UNISON Scotland.
Members are encouraged to continue
to participate in campaigns and within
their branches. You are all aware
our AGM is on 17 November 2007 Edinburgh.
Please turn up in large numbers and
let your voice be heard.
Finally, I would like to thank all
those who have given me support during
my time as Editor of this Newsletter.
Unfortunately, I will not be serving
on the SBMC due to unavoidable circumstances.
However, I look forward to interacting
with you outside the committee.
Good luck to you all and remember
this is our union. Make excellent
use of all the opportunities. And
in pursuing our aims, let us not forget
those who are suffering in Burma,
Darfur Sudan, Northern Uganda, Iraq,
and Afghanistan. These are all victims
of injustices and HIV, and let us
make a resolution to support our newsletter
Editor SBMC Newsletter
Training success again for Black
Ismail Donmez, Scottish Black
This year's Scottish black members
training weekend brought in new
and old members to learn and organise,
to contribute to the work of UNISON
Scotland - defending the rights
of its members by eliminating all
forms of discrimination at all levels.
Lothian Health's Mary Mbae praised
the input of Bob Cotton Award Winner,
Ghulam Rasul Shahzad, who was asked
up from England to tutor on the
course. City of Edinburgh's Maria
Barnett agreed, "Ghulam got us really
Hamid Rasheed, Scottish Black Members
Chair, said, "This year's training
was a re-run of last years programme,
with slight modifications.
"Black members enjoy goodwill and
support for our cause in the Scottish
Learning and Organising Committee
and Scottish Branches."
At the end of the training, David
Okalo Olwa, Chair Lothian Health
Black Members Group, presented a
tartan tie to Ghulam Rasul Shahzad,
on behalf of the delegates.
· 62% trainees were new to the
black members training weekend.
· Almost all trainees were happy
with the venue. Only three trainees
expressed dissatisfaction with hotel
· 100% trainees expressed their
satisfaction with the tutor, training
content and the ways the training
· All trainees would like to keep
the Training running every year.
Democracy in Action - Lothian
Health Black Members Group Elections
Lui Giacomello A Special Meeting
of the UNISON Lothian Health Black
Members Self Organised Group was
held in September 2007, to elect
its office bearers within the group.
The Special Meeting coincided with
UNISON Scotland's Black Members
Training Weekend in order to provide
the course students with an example
of democracy in action.
The Bob Cotton Award Winner Tutor,
Ghulam Rasul Shahzad took the chair
during the elections. Hamid Rasheed,
Chair, Scottish Black Members Group
and Ismail Donmez, Secretary, Scottish
Black Members Group were nominated
to act as tellers.
Ghulam explained the election process
and then proceeded to read out the
nominations, which had been received
following the calling notice to
all Lothian Black Group Members.
The following members were elected
to officer positions in Lothian
Health Branch Black Members Group:
David Olwa, Chair; Tina Makedenge,
Vice Chair; Claudius Manyundwa,
Secretary; Lui Giacomello, Communications;
Patricia Agu, Education; Menchie
Aquino, Recruitment (job share);
Midel Lena, Recruitment (job share).
David Olwa, on behalf of the group,
thanked Ghulam, Hamid and Ismail
for their assistance to ensure fairness
in the elections.
David also expressed the hope
that observing the election process
must have enriched learning for
David said: "You have seen democracy
in action and I encourage you all
to return to your branches and set
up your own Black Members Groups.
We started from scratch just one
year ago and now we are a 32 member
strong self-organising group.
"Success of our Branch's Black
SOG is enviable, yet we are more
than happy to share our experiences
in setting up of more Black Self-Organisation
Groups in Scottish Branches, he