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Scottish Black Members Black Members
 

 

STUC Black Members Conference

Menzies Hotel, Washington Street, Glasgow
2-3 October 2010
Reports from Glasgow by Nahid Aslam
and David Ng Hop.
Nahid Aslam

STUC delegation
Delegation: Hamid Rasheed - Perth & Kinross, Bev Miller - NBMC / Sheffield, Martha Magaisa - South Lanarkshire, Eileen Dinning - Equality Officer, David Ng Hop - Edinburgh City, Patricia Agu - Lothian Health Rakiya Suleimen - Lothian Health, Goulnaz Ali - Dundee, Nahid Aslam - Edinburgh City, Ismail Donmez - Chair SMBC

Womens' committee urges fight against cuts

Equalities Act. Concern about dilution of public dFuties
If proposals go through, it will give public authorities even more opportunities to avoid their legal responsiblities more...

'There is a better way' - Dave Moxham
STUC's 'THERE IS A BETTER WAY' Campaign sets out to gain the maximum unity across Scotland's ethnic and faith communties and its voluntary sector. more...

Disabled workers' committee urges support for 23 October march
...important that we all united in our effort to stop the cuts in the Public Sector more...

About time UK gave more in Social Aid and less in Military Aid: Funds needed for Pakistan, says Hamid Rasheed
Hamid Rasheed calls for more funds for flood relief and Nahid Aslam - supporting emergency motion 1 - Pakistan - reminded delegates of the unfulfilled pledge given by the UK government of giving 0.7% of National GDP to International Development more...

When democratic activities and structures are not inclusive, it a warning sign our culture is not healthy
We as Black people must also become more involved in Politics and get our communities involved, says David Hop. more...

Black trade unionists must be represented at all levels of the movement, Lothian Health's Rakiya Suleimen tells conference more...

Modern Apprenticeship Project - Supporting and organising young people must be a priority for unions

Equality a founding principle of Scottish Parliament - Marlyn Glen
One of the founding principles of the Scottish Parliament is equal opportunities. This ensures that EO are at the heart of all the Parliament's activities and the EO Committee is central to this. more...

Workshops cover Mental Health, Operation Black Vote, Close the Gap and One Workplace Equal Rights project

Cuts will have a devastating impact on women and ethnic minorities
Anas Sarwar MP tell delegates 40% of women work in public services compared to 15% of men and BAME are more likely to work in the public sector than white people. But this government has not carried out a BME impact assessment of their cuts more...

Recession devastating life chances and futures of younger generation of black workers - Bev Miller
UNISON NBMC Chairperson warned that systemic labour market discrimination and disadvantage confronted BAME workers before the recession even happened more...

Scotland United against fascism - Aamer Anwar
AAMER ANWAR - Human Rights Lawyer spoke about the campaigning work of SCOTLAND UNITED (an umbrella group of trade unions, members of political parties and individuals which have come together to mobilise against bigotry and fascism) more...

Youth Committee to stand by black members at 'Better Way' rally on 23 October
Calling for a huge turnout on 23 October, Georgina Wardrop - Chairperson of the STUC Youth Committee - told the STUC Youth unemployment in Scotland seems to constantly be on the rise, and there are undoubtedly difficult times ahead. more...

Step up anti-BNP and anti-SDL work
UNISON's Ismail Donmez moved motion 9: STEP UP THE ANTI-BNP/SDL WORK. more...

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Womens' committee urges fight against cuts

Natasha Gerson
Natasha Gerson

Guest Speaker - Natasha Gerson: Co-Vice Chair STUC Women's Committee Natasha spoke about the Single Equality Bill and the effect it will have on women - including BME women.

She encouraged delegates to work together to fight the cuts within the public sector, which if realised will see a rise in cases of violence towards women as stress levels amongst the population rise.

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Equalities Act. Concern about dilution of public duties

Nahid Aslam
Nahid Aslam

Nahid Aslam - Edinburgh City Branch - seconded and supported motion 17: Single Equalities Act. The new Equalities Act which became law on the 1st October encompasses all the existing equality legislation, including all the public sector duties.

Whilst we welcome a number of progressive developments particularly in relation to improved definations of discrimination, we are seriously concerned at what we see as the dilution of the public sector duties.

Our experience of the public sector duties has been largely negative. Despite the clear guidance for public authorities, they have used it as nothing more than a tick box exercise.

Their definition of consultation has been shameful and virtually non-existant. The current consultation from the Scottish Government on the new specific duty is extremely disappointing.

If their proposals go through, it will give public authorities even more opportunities to avoid their legal responsiblities.That is why we need to respond as a trade union movement and tell the government their proposals are not acceptable.

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'There is a better way' - Dave Moxham

Dave Moxham
Dave Moxham

Guest Speaker - DAVE MOXHAM - Deputy General Secretary, Scottish TUC spoke at STUC Black Workers Conference told the conference of the great value the STUC General Council placed on the work of the STUC BMC and was thankful for it.

He went on to talk about the challenge of the BNP and the EU elections which saw a rise in far right popularity. He applauded the good work done by anti-racist and community groups, including the trade unions in fighting off the fascists.

He spoke about the cuts to the public sector and the very real possiblity of a 'double dip' recession. A double-dip recession will not only cause further sufering to citizens but will also increase the very deficit the ConDems claim they wish tro reduce.

He said 'the only effective solution to the current economic crisis is the one laid out by the STUC and others:

* slow and steady deficit reduction based on sustaining economic growth throgh creating jobs paid at least the living wage

* the delivery of decent public services and fair benefits through progressive taxation

* and collecting the missing tax billions either avoided, evaded or wasted on products like Trident.

He said the poor will be hardest hit by these cuts and we know that BME communities tend to be in the bottom 10% of the population. They also tend to be employed in greater numbers with the public sector.

That is why the STUC's 'THERE IS A BETTER WAY' Campaign sets out to gain the maximum unity across Scotland's ethnic and faith communties and its voluntary sector.

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Disabled workers' committee urges support for 23 October march

Alan Mackay
Alan Mackay

Guest Speaker - Alan MacKay - STUC Disabled Workers' Committee spoke about the Equalities Act and gave his own experience of life in the workplace as a person with a hearing disability. He was redeployed but then found his salary was cut. He was in effect being punished for his disability.

He linked his speech to Motion 2: BMEs and Mental Health and said that BMEs are also penalised for being disabled. He spoke about the importance of support from family members and colleagues in order to function fully in Society.

He encouraged delegates to take part in the STUC march on the 23rd October. He stated that it was important that we all united in our effort to stop the cuts in the Public Sector.

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About time UK gave more in Social Aid and less in Military Aid: Funds needed for Pakistan, says Hamid Rasheed

Hamid Rasheed
Hamid Rasheed

On the last day of the conference, the Fire Brigade Union (FBU) moved the Emergency motion 1 on Pakistan. Hamid Rasheed (UNISON) speaking in support of the motion, came straight to the point and asked to generate funds and help Pakistan in its relief efforts, for those affected by the worst floods in the country have every seen.

Hamid stated, as a result of floods: "Over 1500 people and endless numbers of live stock have died.

  • Almost 4 million Children face water related life threatening diseases, such as Cholera, Dysentery, Malaria, Gastro-entites, and viral Dengue fever.
  • 6 million people need direct help; these are the one who have nowhere to go as their homes and possession are all destroyed.
  • 33% land is still under water. The current crop is all but gone and no crop to grow for next year
  • The floods have played havoc at a time when the country is fighting war against terrorism. The floods have affected every Pakistani living at home or in the overseas countries.

Despite positive responses from world over; not enough money went to Pakistan to cover the cost of short term relief efforts, such as shelter, food, clean drinking water, and health care.

Hamid made it clear that the phase two of the relief effort calls for rehabilitation of the flood victims. He said he is not the only UNISON member who is involved in generation of funds; there are many in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dundee, and in other area of Scotland who have made donations to the flood appeal.

Individual efforts of good people living in the UK have so far contributed over 60 million to the Disaster Emergency Appeal.

However, there is a further need to generate 78 millions, to step-up the relief efforts. Hamid pointed out, that his trade union UNISON have already donated 10,000 to the Disasters Emergency Committee overseeing the British aid effort, and asked the Scottish branches to follow suit.

Hamid welcomed the 130m pledge made the UK Government and urged upon the conference to support the motion, to enable the STUC to influence the UK Government to call upon other countries to commit, and help rebuild Pakistan.

Nahid Aslam - Edinburgh City Branch - supporting emergency motion 1 - Pakistan - reminded delegates of the unfulfilled pledge given by the UK government of giving 0.7% of National GDP to International Development.

This pledge has not yet been realised. She stated that natural disasters were on the increase - with droughts in Africa, floods in China, Bangladesh and Hurricanes in Haiti and across the Caribbean. How much is the ever-giving and thoughtful British Public expected to give and keep giving, how much can the trade unions give ...

It is about time the UK gave more in Social Aid and less in Military Aid.

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When democratic activities and structures are not inclusive, it a warning sign our culture is not healthy

David Hop
David Hop

David Hop from Edinburgh City Branch spoke on motion 6: Diversity in the Scottish Parliament. David mentioned the glaring democratic deficit within Scotland whose structures does not represent us. 'When democratic activities and structures are not inclusive, it a warning sign. A sign that our culture is not healthy.

'It means that those making decisions that affect our futures don't reflect all of us or reflect our life experiences. It is time to address this deficit!'.

'We as Black people must also become more involved in Politics and get our communities involved'.

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Black trade unionists must be represented at all levels of the movement

Speaking on Amended Motion 8: Black Representation, Rakiya Suleimen from Lothian Health Branch spoke about her personal experiences within the NHS and reminded Conference of the importance of Black Trade Unionists to be represented at all levels of the Trade Union Movement.

'This is the only way we will be truly be on the Trade Union agenda and be reflective of our membership.

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Modern Apprenticeship Project - Supporting and organising young people must be a priority for unions

Tommy Breslin
Tommy Breslin

'Modern Apprenticeships' help build knowledge, skills and expertise, and tests competence, said guest speaker Tommy Breslin, Development Officer, Modern Apprenticeship Project, Scottish Union Learning.

To find out more about them contact your Tommy Breslin, Development Officer, Modern Apprenticeship Project, Scottish Union Learning, STUC 333 Woodlands Road Glasgow G3 6NG Tel: 0141 337 8152 tbreslin@stuc.org.uk

"The economic downturn has exacerbated long standing problems for young people in the labour market creating a crisis in youth unemployment. The unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year olds stands at 21.3% in Scotland. For Young black people however it is 48% and for young Asians it is 31%.

"Evidence from past recessions shows that unemployment has a lasting and devastating impact on young people's future life chances.

"Modern Apprentices have been brought into the National Minimum Wage framework, this is an important step forward but still far from providing young people with a living wage, some of whom earn 2.50 per hour. Being paid 2.50 ph for a 40 hour week means your take-home-pay is only 100 per week. How does one pay one's bills on this amount?

"Young people tend to work in low paid and vulnerable sectors of the economy. Their employment rights are often abused and their workplaces are often unsafe. Unfortunately, too few are union members.

"Supporting and organising young people must be a priority for unions. Young workers are not just the future of our movement; they should be active members now. As part of the Modern Apprenticeship Project I need your input.

* If you have any ideas for work to be undertaken in this project please let me know

* If you have Modern Apprentices within your workplace, please let me know.

* I will be sending out a survey by email over the coming weeks, please complete it whether or not you work with Apprentices. Contact details:Scottish Union Learning STUC Centre 333 Woodlands Road Glasgow G3 6NG Tel: 0141 337 8111"

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Equality a founding principle of Scottish Parliament - Marlyn Glen

Marlyn Glen
Marlyn Glen

"One of the founding principles of the Scottish Parliament is equal opportunities. This ensures that EO are at the heart of all the Parliament's activities and the EO Committee is central to this", Marlyn Glen MSP, Vice Convenor, Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee told the STUC Black Workers Conference.

Over the last year there have been several pieces of work that the EO Committee has carried out in relation to race:

1. Migration and Trafficking Inquiry - a key issue that the inquiry has highlighted has been the lack of robust information on migrant trends and patterns. The Committee has also learned of the problems this presents for public service providers who are unable to plan services appropriately. The Committee will now consider a draft report on the inquiry with a view to publishing recommendations to the Scottish Government on migration and trafficking issues hopefully in November.

2. Monitoring BME Data on Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Scotland Act as there are gaps in the monitoring of ethnicity data.

3. Forced Marriage (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Bill which has been designed to protect people who may be or have been forced into a marriage by enabling civil courts to make a 'forced marriage protection order'. Breach of this type of order would be a criminal offence under the legislation.

4. Forthcoming Evidence session with Minister for Housing and Communities to build on the work done last year on the Scottish Government's Race Equality Statement. The Session will also use the session to consider the implementation of the UK Equality Act 2010.

After the elections in May next year there will be a new EO Committee who will provide a legacy paper setting out the issues that it may wish to consider as part of its ongoing work. The Committee would be delighted to hear from anyone who has views on the future work of EO Committee in relation to race issues.

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Workshops cover Mental Health, Operation Black Vote, Close the Gap and One Workplace Equal Rights project

The STUC Black Workers Conference held four workshops: * Mental Health * Operation Black Vote * Close the Gap * One Workplace Equal Rights Project.

Nahid Aslam attended the Mental Health Workshop, chaired by Ian Tasker of STUC. He mentioned the work the STUC was involved in with the Depression Alliance Scotland. They are offering an free online course to help people overcome common problems seen in low mood, such as unhelpful thinking, feeling overwhelmed and not sleeping.

To find out more contact Depression Alliance Scotland on 0845 123 23 20 or check out their website: www.dasllttfi.co.uk

David Hop attended the Operation Black Vote Workplace. It was chaired by Nazerin Wardrop (Unite the Union). OBV is funded to encourage BAME individuals from all social backgrounds to become active in Politics.

It is active mainly in England but they are keen to set up a base in Scotland also, maybe under the auspicies of the STUC They are working towards encouraging more political shadowing amongst all political parties and in all political fields - councillors, MPs and MSPs.

There are a number of shadowing projects in operation at present e.g Leith Open Space in Edinburgh. To find out more contact OBV on: 020 8983 5430/5426/5471 Email: info@obv.org.uk

Get more information on Close The Gap at http://www.closethegap.org.uk/

See more about One Workplace Equal Rights at http://www.oneworkplace.co.uk

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Cuts will have a devastating impact on women and ethnic minorities

Anas Sarwar
Anas Sarwar

Guest speaker Anas Sarwar MP for Glasgow Central, thanked STUC Black Workers Conference for the work it has done on tackling racial discrimination and to promote race equality, as he warned that the cuts the ConDem government wants to introduce will have a massive impact on the vulnerable and hardest working in Society.

"The budget deficit may well be 40 billion in two years but that household debt will rise by 45 bn. in the same period. That is over 60 000 for every house in this country. The Condem government may be introducing a bank levy of 0.55 but they are also cutting corporation tax by 4% - effectively taking with one hand and giving a lot more back with the other. I fundamentally believe that government is about two things:

* tackling inequality

* creating opportunity

"But in the next five years inequality will be entrenched and opportunity will be taken away from hundreds of thousands of children and families across the UK. The truth is that Public Sector cuts will have a devastating impact on women and ethnic minorities. 40% of women work in public services compared to 15% of men and BAME are more likely to work in the public sector than white people. But this government has not carried out a BME impact assessment of their cuts.

"Make no mistake - we are dealing with the same old Tories and the same old Thatcherite ideology.

"Conference, I want to end with a promise: That no matter your political affiliation, no matter your race, religion, colour of skin, no matter how big or small the injustice, I will stand shoulder to shoulder with you to take on this fight together. A fight for: justice, decency, equality and opportunity for all.

"This must be our guiding principles as we build a society where every individual, no matter their background, can match their aspiration with achievement".

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Recession devastating life chances and futures of younger generation of black workers - Bev Miller

Bev Miller
Bev Miller

Bev Miller - UNISON NBMC Chairperson warned that systemic labour market discrimination and disadvantage confronted BAME workers before the recession even happened - and has deepened the impact of the recession on them and their communities.

Speaking on Motion 5 - PROTECT BLACK WORKING MEMBERS' JOBS, she said: "In January 2010 we heard the shocking statistic that nearly half of young black people are unemployed. We know that long periods of unemployment blights the lives of people.

"This recession is devastating the life chances and futures of the younger generation of black workers. Over-represented in the lowest paying jobs - under-represented at the top. Black children have nearly a 50% chance of poverty.

"Black communities have unequal access to education, healthcare, social services, housing and key services. The Million Voices campaign - defending public services matters to black workers and their communities. This is why UNISON has brought this motion to conference.

"It is now more urgent than ever that we organise in our workplaces and in our communities. So that we can represent them in the workplace and work with them within the community.

"This motion will enable us to integrate the work of STUC Black Workers Committee and other relevant groups on Race Equality into the vital work UNISON and other unions are doing on protecting and defending public services."

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Scotland United against fascism - Aamer Anwar

Aamer Anwar
Aamer Anwar

2 Oct: AAMER ANWAR - Human Rights Lawyer spoke about the campaigning work of SCOTLAND UNITED (an umbrella group of trade unions, members of political parties and individuals which have come together to mobilise against bigotry and fascism).

He informed delegates about how the English/ Scottish Defence League had hoped to march on the Central Mosque, Glasgow on the 14th November 2009. However this desire of their's failed to be realised because of the strength of support provided by Scotland United.

By trying to march on the Central Mosque the SDL had hoped to whip up race hate and create a climate of fear. Some people argue that to confront the Nazis is denying them their 'Freedom of Speech' and there are those within BME communities who say we should ignore them.

But allowing the SDL to whip up racism and division is not only undemocratic, it is dangerous. When the Nazis begin to organise in an area, Black and Asian people, trade unions and others face intimidation and brutal attacks.

Silence is not an option because their aim is to divide us by making scapegoats of one community, just as the fascists did with the Jews in the 1930s.

Mainstream politicians have abandoned millions of working-class Britons to mass unemployment, bad housing, poor public services and hopelessness about the future - on which the Nazis feed in such a frenzy. Britain today is dangerous.

The Tories have inherited a broken Britain in which a foreign-owned, right-wing media will bear false testimony - that foreigners and muslims cause our problems. Either our politicians will move to the Right to reap the whirlwind of Bigotry, or the BNP will grow and grow.

We have to build a movement to stop them and say loud and clear we don't want fascists or racists on our streets ... we are united.

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Youth Committee to stand by black members at 'Better Way' rally on 23 October

Georgina Wardrop
Georgina Wardrop

2 Oct: Georgina Wardrop - Chairperson of the STUC Youth Committee - told the STUC Black Members Conference, 'with the deepest and darkest recession to hit the UK; circumstances have changed drastically for each and everyone one of us, regardless our age, race, gender, sexuality or disability. Youth unemployment in Scotland seems to constantly be on the rise, and there are undoubtedly difficult times ahead.

'Youth unemployment is up by nearly 80% since the start of the economic crisis, yet one of the first acts of the Tory-Lib coalition was to stop the Future Jobs Fund denying employment to thousands of young Scots. The Chancellor's June Budget means fewer jobs will be created.

'Cuts in Public Spending will reduce jobs in the Public and Private sectors. Cutting jobs and investment in the future won't get us out of crisis - investing in manufacturing, skills, infrastructure and jobs for the of this country can.

'The STUC Youth Committee is committed to taking the fight against the savage cuts forward, and we hope to stand beside you on the 23/10/10 in Edinburgh.

'Conference we must work together to change the situation, we must build ideas from each strand of society regardless if those people are young or old, black or white. We must act now to ensure the government takes notice and stop feeding us lie after lie: there is a better way, and the better way is together.

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Step up anti-BNP and anti-SDL work

Ismail Donmez
Ismail Donmez

Oct 2: UNISON's Ismail Donmez moved motion 9: STEP UP THE ANTI-BNP/SDL WORK. He stated that at this year's General Election, we once more faced the spectre of fascists, racists and the far right, seeking to exploit people's economic fears and anxieties to threaten and divide our communities.

He brought to our attention that when we raise voter turn out we crush the BNP vote. Knowing this, UNISON started early on encouraging people to register to vote.

UNISON, together with the HOPE NOT HATE and UNITE AGAINST FASCISM Campaigns were extremely active during the Elections. As a result the BNP were spectacularly disappointed. They lost council seats.

However we must not be complacent. The BNP received half a million votes nationally and a recession continues to threaten the livelihoods and futures of communities. Such conditions make it easy for the Far Right to march through our cities, making scapegoats of the most vulnerable amongst us and divide our communities.

Hence we must not assume the hard work is over but rather carry on the struggle against the BNP and SDL.

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