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Scotland
Black Members Newsletter
Oct 2007 edition
Click here for a pdf version of this newsletter

Headlines

Black Members Newsletter


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 James Watson.

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 statement.

The conference invited many guest speakers among these were:

John Hulbert- Provost of Perth Kinross Council, who welcomed the conference to Perth.

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 new narratives.

Jenny Duncan- Chairperson, STUC Youth Committee reflected the similarity of the concerns of young members and the conference agenda.

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 our history.

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 seat.

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.

Headlines

Black Members Newsletter


Chair's Message

Dear Readers,

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 as:

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.

Best Wishes

Hamid Rasheed
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 newsletter.

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 and UNISON.

Bernard Kamya.
Editor SBMC Newsletter

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Headlines

Black Members Newsletter


Training success again for Black Members

Ismail Donmez, Scottish Black Members Secretary

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 involved."

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 services.

100% trainees expressed their satisfaction with the tutor, training content and the ways the training was delivered.

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 the delegates.

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 concluded".

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