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Black workers speak up for Community at TUC conference

15th April 2019

A group of Community members attended the recent TUC Black Workers conference in London. The annual event brings together black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) union activists to discuss the issues that affect black workers in the workplace and wider society.

Community spoke in a number of debates, with particular focus on the rise of the far right and ongoing racism that too many black workers experience in the workplace.

Community delegate, Kaisar Rashid, told the conference: “This is our country and our home, and we have a right to feel safe when we go about our daily lives – rather than living in fear of being physically or verbally abused or attacked.

“We need to work with anti-fascist groups, get organised, and make sure that tomorrow is better than today, for future generations of black and ethnic minority workers like us.”

Talking to the motion regarding non-disclosure agreements in harassment cases, Carol Hodgson, a Community rep in our Midlands region, said:

“I worked in a betting office for over 20 years. I see too often how my colleagues and fellow trade union members are harassed by the public on a daily basis. I got beaten up but to my employers it was just part of the job.

“It’s great to see the TUC running a campaign on third-party harassment and I hope other unions will take it on too. These are the problems that disproportionately affect black, LGBT+, disabled, women and young people and make life even harder for those just trying to get by and on with their jobs and their lives.

“This is an issue for all of us. Awareness of harassment, discrimination and bullying has risen with regards to black, LGBT+ and disabled workers. We combat and challenge them wherever possible, but the responsibility must lie with the employer to ensure that harassment, discrimination and bullying does not happen in the first place. And this should be backed up with enforceable penalties.”

Community NEC member representing black and minority ethnic workers, Christopher Knight, seconded the motion by the POA on the lack of black and minority ethnic workers in the prison service. Chris drew on his own experience of working in prisons and how little diversity there is among prison officers. The motion welcomed the recent ‘Lammy review’ into the experience of BAME individuals of the criminal justice system. The review included recommendations regarding increasing the diversity of the workforce in prisons and in leadership positions with the prison service.

Photo of Chris Knight speaking at TUC Black Workers 2019

Chris Knight joins the debate at TUC Black Workers

Chris also spoke in support of an RMT motion calling for an end to nationality-based pay discriminiation, which is particularly prevalent in the shipping industry.

The conference heard from guest speakers Claude Moraes MEP and TUC Deputy General Secretary Paul Nowak. The recent Windrush generation scandal was a particular talking point throughout the conference.