Report of the 2009 TUC Black Workers' Conference

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Report of the


Black Workers'

Conference 2009




report 1

resolutions carried 2-15

Motions Withdrawn, lost and remitted 16

election results 17

vote of thanks 18

Motion to congress 18


Friday 24 April 14.00 to 17.30

Saturday 25 April 09.30 to 17.30

Sunday 26 April 09.15 to 13.00

IN THE CHAIR: Lesley Manasseh

Conference was attended by 232 delegates from 33 affiliated unions, 10 representatives from Trades Union Councils and Regional Councils, 49 visitors and 9 exhibitors.


It was agreed that the following delegates should act as Tellers and Scrutineers:

Mohammed llyas


Sandra Langdon


Ro Marsh


Jawad Raza


David Uduehi



The Chair addressed the Conference on Friday afternoon.


Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary, and Shelia Bearcroft, TUC President, addressed the Conference on Friday afternoon.


On Saturday morning, Simon Woolley, Director of Operation Black Vote addressed the Conference.

On Saturday afternoon, Dr Richard Stone, a member of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry and Richard Corbett MEP addressed the Conference.

On Sunday morning, Luka Phiri of the Zimbabwean Association and Let them Work Campaign addressed the Conference.


The Report of the Race Relations Committee, on their work during the year and on issues considered by the General Council, which were of particular importance, was approved.



Please note: all accepted amendments have been incorporated into the texts

1 Racism and the Recession

Conference recognises that the current recession and rise in unemployment could have a disproportionately adverse impact on black workers in two major ways:

i) there is likely to be a rise in racism and racist scapegoating directed towards black communities; and

ii) black workers could be at greater risk in the employment market because they are already more likely than white workers to be unemployed or occupy low paid and insecure jobs.

Conference calls upon all unions to help combat racism in the community and the

workplace and to be especially vigilant in relation to changes in the workforce such as redundancies and redeployment, the use of performance management to sack workers, and other changes in terms and conditions designed to reduce costs or jobs, to ensure that employers do not take any such steps in a way which directly or indirectly discriminates against black workers.

Conference further recognises that the end of the recession, when employers begin to employ more workers, represents a once-in-a-generation chance to address black workers' under-representation.

To that end Conference reaffirms 2005 TUC policy calling for the establishment of a Union Diversity Fund, and calls upon the TUC to campaign for this with urgency.

Moved by Connect

Seconded by Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union

2. Agenda for Economic Recovery

Conference notes that:

i) the people of Britain are experiencing the shock and awe of the turmoil in the financial markets and the banking sector, which has resulted in cuts in public spending, rising unemployment, wage cuts and home repossessions;

ii) many in the financial sector continue to receive obscene pay, deny responsibility for the economic crisis and still extol the virtues of the free market; and

iii) many people suffer from the lack of heating while energy companies and suppliers show increases in profits and pay greater dividends to shareholders.

The change is now for the Government is to steer the economy through the recession while protecting the most vulnerable and those least able to stand the wage cuts and unemployment. It is sound economic sense to ensure greater disposable income for the poor and therefore creating demand to kick start the economy than relieving the rich of tax.

The biggest issue facing working people in Britain today is the carnage in social and economic terms of the recession. It is virtually certain that the employment/social impact will fall disproportionately on black people, especially young black people who we have fought so hard over the years to ensure equality of opportunity.

Conference calls upon the TUC to lobby the chancellor to continue to:

a) have greater regulation of the economy;

b) increase public spending and accelerate the public works programmes; and

c) adopt measures to increase the pay of the poorest in Britain.

Moved by GMB

Seconded by Unite the Union


Conference rejects the slogan 'British jobs for British workers' which has no place in the trade union movement.

This slogan, first raised by Gordon Brown in 2007:

  • suggests the current economic crisis can be solved by excluding non-British workers from the labour market;
  • aids employers in dividing workers;
  • encourages racist and xenophobic politics of parties like the BNP, who are seeking to exploit the current economic situation.

Conference recognises that this was not the slogan of the Lindsey Oil Refinery Strike Committee, and fully supports their demands that workers on all UK sites should be unionised and covered by the NAECI agreement. British based workers should not be denied the opportunity to apply for jobs.

Conference supports the fight to defend conditions of employment, access to work and training and believes this dispute raises fundamental issues about UK and European Labour law, in particular the European Posted Workers Directive which can permit the undermining of union agreements.

Conference believes the defence of jobs and services must defend all workers' rights in the UK irrespective of race, nationality, or national origin and calls on the TUC and all affiliates, to conduct future disputes by promoting solidarity between workers.

Moved by Public and Commercial Services Union

Seconded by Unison


Conference notes that some employers are excluding UK workers from even applying for work on construction projects. This was evident in the unofficial strike action at Lindsey Oil Refinery which ended when the company bowed to union pressure and agreed to give UK-based workers of all ethnic backgrounds fair access to work on British construction projects.

Conference is concerned that recent European cases have undermined and severely damaged collective rights and the ability of unions to defend and promote workers rights within Europe.

Conference supports freedom of movement for all workers to have the right to live and work in any EU country. No worker should be exploited for exercising their right to free movement and should be guaranteed the same pay, terms and conditions as negotiated under collective agreement for all workers.

Conference congratulates the TUC/unions for challenging the rights of multinationals to undercut local wages and exploit workers and our continued campaign to stop the far right from dividing communities and using such disputes to stir up racism and xenophobia. We endorse the petition supporting the fight for decent wages, conditions and jobs for all, but not supporting the misuse of the slogan 'British jobs for British workers'.

Moved by Unite the Union

Seconded by University and College Union

3 WorLD Economic Crisis and the Far Right

Conference is aware that during economic crises far right elements in society often become more vociferous and attempt to manipulate the conditions in society for their own racist and fascist political gain. Conference notes Government warnings that the world economic crisis may lead to an increase in support for 'far right extremism and racism', and an increase in public hostility to migrants as the job market tightens.

Conference believes also that it is vital that ordinary people do not pay for the effects of the economic crisis.

Conference therefore calls on the TUC and affiliated unions to join forces in fighting for an alternative economic model which protects working people and in collectively organising against the threat of the BNP and other far right groups.

Conference also urges the TUC to:

i) co-ordinate affiliated unions' activities against far right groups;

ii) provide up to date advice to unions on campaigning strategies;

iii) organise a briefing for unions on the impact of the economic downtown on race relations;

iv) continue campaigning for clear rights for all unions to exclude BNP members from their own membership; and

v) campaign for BNP membership to be deemed incompatible with public service employment.

Moved by National Union of Teachers

Seconded by Unite the Union

4 Challenging Racism in the Workplace

Conference notes the pervasive and systemic nature of institutional racism experienced by Black members in workplaces across Britain.

Conference further notes evidence from monitoring undertaken using the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000 which shows that black people continue to be under-represented in workplaces that this gets worse higher up the occupational scales and that black workers continue to be over-represented in disciplinary action, redundancies and dismissals.

Meanwhile, black members who are women, disabled, LGBT or from religious community groups or older/younger age groups face layers of discrimination in addition to racism.

Conference believes denying training and career progression opportunities to black workers wastes immense human and intellectual potential.

Conference therefore welcomes Unison's Challenging Racism in the Workplace Project and the opportunities it has created for members to get active in negotiating collective bargaining agreements around race equality with their employers.

Conference calls upon the TUC and its affiliates to:

i) gather evidence of racial discrimination in the workplaces and publish this information;

ii) deliver a national programme of training to challenge racism in the workplace; and

iii) promote a challenging racism in the workplace toolkit for affiliates to become involved in negotiating collective workplace agreements on race equality.

Moved by UNISON

Seconded by GMB

5 Black Representation in Trade Union Structures

Conference recognises the good work of the trade union movement in highlighting issues affecting BEM trade unionists and thus making trade unions very relevant to black people.

However, since the appointment of Bill Morris, as the first black General Secretary of a major trade union, the strong perception of many BEM trade unionists is that not enough is being done by unions to encourage their black activists to move up the union ladder.

The recent election of President Barrack Hussein Obama has given new hope for black people that desire and passion for success can be rewarded with the ultimate goal.

Conference instructs the incoming TUC Race Committee to prepare a study of the trade union movement with the focus on identifying how many BEM people there are in the senior officer in national executive posts. This figure should also be correlated against any data that is available linked to the membership demographics of the unions in question. The report should also seek to identify any best practice initiatives that have been adopted by trade unions, which positively influenced BEM to take charge of their trade union paths.

Moved by Communication Workers' Union

Seconded by Fire Brigades Union

6 Encouraging the Involvement of Black Workers in Unions

Conference welcomes the work being done by affiliates and the TUC to address the under-involvement of black and Asian members in unions. One of the obstacles to tackling under-involvement is the absence of black role models in unions. If black workers are not visible in unions this represents a significant obstacle to our efforts to reach out to and organise black workers. It is particularly important to connect with young black people engaging them with trade unions.

Promoting black role models in the union is a positive action measure which undoubtedly works. Where black members are visible in unions this motivates and encourages other black members to get active and involved. Promoting black role models is one way unions can help overcome the obstacles facing black members in unions.

Conference welcomes the Black Staff and Officers Summer School and calls upon the TUC to develop practical guidance on how unions can go about developing this area and encourage regions to organise family days during Black History Month, introducing young BAEM people, including children to trade unionism through sessions on encouraging union involvement for different age groups by e.g. inspirational role models promoting union activism and knowledge, fun activities, games and music'.

Moved by Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers

Seconded by Unite the Union

7 The Equality Bill and the Equality Duty

On the 10th anniversary of Stephen Lawrence Inquiry Report, Conference believes it is vital to protect the gains made from this Report and its strong commitment to tackling institutional racism. Therefore, in creating the single public sector Equality Duty, the lessons learnt from the Race Equality duties must not be undermined.

Conference is extremely concerned that there has been too little progress on the

Government's agenda to tackle institutional racism and recognise the Equality Bill must ensure more robust implementation, with greater involvement of black workers, trade unions including union equality reps, along with a strong enforcement strategy from the EHRC. Also, every opportunity must be taken to include the private sector in promoting race equality and ensure procurement is clearly covered.

Therefore, Conference calls on TUC Race Relations Committee/affiliates to:

i) establish formal structures ensuring trade union involvement with the EHRC, similar to the TUC/CRE Liaison Committee;

ii) lobby for a strong public sector Equality Duty:

a) including trade union involvement, pay audits, statutory rights for union equality representatives; and

b) it's extension to voluntary and private sector including through effective government procurement policies; and

iii) be actively involved in the implementation of the Duty and Bill in the workplace.

Moved by Unite the Union

Seconded by GMB

8 Community Cohesion

Conference believes that it is time to work towards greater community cohesion. We

have witnessed many years of greed, competition, oppression and self interest based on global capitalism, consumerism and imperialism, which has had an adverse impact on our communities. Conference deplores as unsustainable the values inherent in these practices, which underpin the interrelated social, economic, environmental and political challenges our world is experiencing. Conference recognises that unity is strength, and unity must be restored within our communities in order to improve the life chances of individuals, build confidence, deliver on equality and diversity and develop the knowledge and skill base of in particular, our young people.

Conference calls on the TUC General Council to work towards greater community cohesion through the development and implementation of a national strategy focusing on the following:

i) an action plan on how the TUC and its affiliates will contribute to the effective delivery of community cohesion;

ii) an explicit joining-up of community cohesion with the sustainability agenda defined not just in environmental terms but also in terms of equality, fairness and social justice;

iii) partnership working with community organisations to combat the devastating impact that financial competition is now having on families and poorer communities; and

iv) producing a statement supporting funding for single interest groups and challenging any local authority which attempts to prejudice single interest groups and/or community organisations.

Moved by Napo

Seconded by Association of Teachers and Lecturers

9 Migrant Workers

Conference recognises the benefits brought to the UK by migrant workers. Furthermore, Conference welcomes the contribution of migrant workers in delivering essential public services such as education and health care. However, Conference remains concerned about the exploitation of migrant workers.

Conference condemns the introduction of the points-based system for restricting the entry of migrant workers into the UK economy. Conference believes that the points-based system of immigration control:

i) is discriminatory;

ii) victimises overseas workers; and

iii) will undermine essential public services.

Conference calls on the TUC to organise with affiliates a national campaign to expose the failings of the new points-based immigration system.

Moved by National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers

Seconded by Unison

10 Points-Based Immigration

Conference condemns the introduction of the points-based immigration system and the attempt to make workers in all sectors into informants against migrant colleagues.

Colleges and universities are being forced to police the movements of international students and staff. International students cannot study here without proof of large reserves in their bank accounts. International students must register with ID cards at their colleges and universities - although we have no systems to store such information.

UK education cannot operate without the participation of international students and staff. Many college and universities rely on the fees of overseas students to survive.

International staff form an essential part of world-class research teams and their teaching expertise enhances the education of all students.

Conference deplores this pandering to anti-immigration racism. Making educators into immigration snoops will damage education for all participants. Placing barriers before international students and staff to enter the country will undermine the reputation of UK education irreparably.

Conference calls for TUC to:

i) lead a campaign against the implementation of the new system;

ii) lobby government to explain the detrimental impact on key sectors; and

iii) work with NUS and other relevant groups to continue the campaign against ID cards.

Moved by: University and College Union

Seconded by Association Of Teachers And Lecturers


Conference notes with grave concern the demise of two of Britain's leading ethnic minority newspapers, New Nation and Eastern Eye which have been placed in administration in late January 2009, resulting in all staff being redundant.

Conference believes that the announcement of a new venture group taking over the assets of Ethnic Media group is no indication that the titles will be saved.

Conference also notes that the Voice has recently made journalists redundant and is transferring part of its work back to Jamaica.

Conference believes that there is still a need for a Black press to cover issues affecting the Black communities that are not routinely covered by mainstream media, and to be campaigning voice against race discrimination.

Conference therefore urges the TUC to work with the National Union of Journalists to ensure that, if these titles are refloated, unions are recognised, staffing levels and quality are maintained and workers rights are respected.

Moved by National Union of Journalists

Seconded by Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union

11 Immigration and Asylum Information Campaign

Conference condemns politicians and those in the media - the usual suspects - for the scapegoating of asylum seekers and immigrants especially at a time of global economic crisis.

The BNP and other racists are being encouraged by proposals such as banning immigrants from receiving benefits. How does this fit in with the UK Government's commitment given at the United Nation's World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) and its review in Geneva in April 2009?

We ask the TUC General Council to conduct an unprecedented information campaign among affiliated trade unions providing them with facts about immigration and asylum seekers. The information should be available in various formats including DVD, leaflet, fact sheets, etc.

Moved by: National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers

Seconded by Public and Commercial Services Union

12 National DNA Database

Conference notes that it has been well documented that BME people are grossly over-represented within the criminal justice system in the UK. The unfairness and injustice and its consequences continue to have a negative impact on BME communities.

The National Database continues this system of over-representation, especially since a recent European court case highlighted the disproportionality of innocent BME people whose DNA samples are unnecessarily kept on file. Those who are innocent of crime should not be on the National DNA database, and it is a stain on the criminal justice system in the UK that their DNA is not removed.

Conference demands that the TUC and its affiliates:

i) bring the matter to the attention of the labour movement and support initiatives aimed at removing this injustice;

ii) join other agencies and organisations in campaigning to have innocent BME people's DNA removed from the national database; and

iii) write to Justice Minister Jack Straw requesting a meeting to discuss this issue.

The Race Relations Committee to report back on any progress at the Black Workers Conference 2010.

Moved by Fire Brigades' Union

Seconded by Public and Commercial Services Union

13 Institutionalised Workplace Bullying and Harassment of Black Workers

Conference believes the current political climate, influenced by the far right agenda and economic down turn, has led to increased complaints of workplace bullying and harassment from black workers subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, religion and belief.

Conference applauds reps that have supported victims of bullying and harassment.

Conference agrees however, that resolving complaints on an individual basis, seldom addresses underlying problems which if left unchecked creates an environment of fear, leaving workers afraid to complain for fear of victimization.

Conference agrees that where bullying and harassment has become institutionalized, rendering policies that are supposed to protect workers from abuses by managers/ colleagues ineffective, the trade union response should be political, involving collective bargaining and campaigning.

Conference instructs the TUC Race Relations Committee to encourage affiliated unions to contribute to campaign funds, so that the TUC can sponsor a research project to identify:

i) specific types of bullying and harassment experienced by black workers in different sectors;

ii) causes of institutionalized bullying and harassment of black workers; and

iii) appropriate strategies to combat and eliminate institutionalized workplace bullying and harassment with a particular emphasis on experiences and outcomes based on gender, race, religion and belief.

Moved by Public and Commercial Services' Union

Seconded by Fire Brigades' Union

14 Encouraging Young black Workers into Employment

Conference acknowledges that unemployment rates for people from non-white ethnic groups are generally higher than those from white ethnic groups.

As people struggle during these economic times, many young people - especially from black and ethnic minorities, who are the most disadvantaged - will leave education and find it extremely difficult to take up employment without work experience behind them.

Conference believes it is important to encourage young people into industries, such as the railway, where they can be trained on the job and access to skilled employment for black people hampered by low numbers entering apprenticeships. The Government's welcome expansion of apprenticeships should be used to increase the number of black apprentices.

Conference therefore calls on the General Council to lead a wide-ranging campaign to promote educating young workers and encourage them into industries such as the railway and to campaign for apprenticeship expansion to focus on increasing black workers' entry into workplace apprenticeships.'

Moved by Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen

Seconded by Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians

15 Race for Health Programme

Conference welcomes the Department for Health's Race for Health programme whose aim is to drive forward race equality in the NHS by delivering measurable improvements in health outcomes for black and minority ethnic (BME) communities and making the NHS fairer in relation to service commissioning, service provision, employment and community development.

Race for Health requires PCTs to provide:

i) an overview of the population served;

ii) an account of action taken to address race equality;

iii) a copy of the Race Equality Scheme; and

iv) an action plan for community engagement.

Conference believes that this programme has the potential to identify and address the healthcare needs of the BME community. Therefore, Conference is very concerned that, to date, only 22 out of a possible 132 Primary Care Trusts have committed to it.

Conference urges the TUC to:

a) direct government attention to the lack of engagement of some PCT's to the Race for Health Agenda;

b) lobby Ministers to promote the engagement of PCTs who fail to engage with this DoH-funded NHS programme; and

c) set up an e-petition to the Government to highlight its concern about the lack of action taken so far by the majority of PCTs.

Moved by Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

Seconded by Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists

17 Racism and the Criminal Justice System

Conference notes the report from the Equal Opportunities and Human Rights

Commission 'Police and Racism: What has been achieved since the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry?'

Further, Conference debates the way forward on eradicating racism in the Criminal

Justice System.

Moved by POA

Seconded by Napo

18 Gaza Conflict

Conference condemns the Israeli invasion of Gaza, the killing of defenceless, men, women and children and the destruction of academic institutions, UN Buildings and hospitals and use of banned chemicals and white phosphorus and the accompanying humanitarian crisis. Conference is especially concerned about the extremely high levels of civilian casualties, and children in particular.

Conference, whilst recognising the extreme complexity of the political situation including rocket attacks on Israel, calls for an end to violence on all sides and believes that an enduring peace can only come about through non-violent means and must be based on a viable two-state solution.

Conference campaigns for:

i) establishment of free independent Palestine;

ii) dismantling of Gaza blockade; and

iii) Israel to be investigated for human rights violations.'

The continuing conflict has serious implications for the stability of the region and the wider world and affects community relations in Britain.

Conference calls on the TUC to make representations to the British Government and through the ITUC for the international community and, in particular the new US Administration, to play an active and balanced role in resolving the conflict.

Moved by Community

Seconded by University and College Union

19 Television Content

Conference notes that minority ethnic performers work in an industry in which opportunities to work often depend on a willingness to portray inauthentic and/or stereotypical characterisations. Whilst there are individual programmes that have consciously avoided crude stereotyping, minorities are still reduced to a small number of familiar stories. The limited ways in which minorities are depicted by broadcasters help maintain the stereotypes that can be so damaging to people from those minorities.

Conference therefore calls on the TUC Race Relations Committee to encourage members from affiliated unions to complain to broadcasters and OFCOM when crude stereotypes are broadcast and when dramas fail to reflect the diversity of places of work i.e. hospitals or schools. This will involve disseminating contact details and information to affiliates about how to make a complaint about television content.

Moved by Equity

Seconded by Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union

20 Increasing BME Political Representation

Conference welcomes the initiatives by the Department for Communities and Local

Government in launching the first ever national role model programme to help raise the aspirations and attainment of black boys and young men.

However, conference recognises the value of role models for young black people - girls as well as boys - and is concerned at the lack of role models for young people in the political arena. Out of 659 MPs only 15 are from BME communities - only two of those are women. If they were to reflect society then the number of BME MPs would be 58.

Research has shown that a sense of alienation amongst the BME population is exacerbated by their lack of political representation and this creates a fertile ground for far right and extremist politics.

Conference therefore calls on the Race Relations Committee to actively campaign with the Government and with affiliates to adopt the comprehensive programme outlined in the report published by the Government Equalities Office entitled 'Operation Black Vote: how to Achieve Better BME Political Representation', in particular, to campaign for a change in the law to allow for positive action to enable all political parties to address under representation.

Moved by Prospect

Seconded by Accord


16 TackLing Racial Inequality, Preventing Extremism and Promoting Cohesion through Education

Conference notes Government initiatives to promote equality and social cohesion and attempts to prevent young people, specifically Muslims, from engaging in extremism.

Conference believes this would be assisted through the active adoption and promotion of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Rights Respecting Schools agenda (RRS).

Conference urges the TUC Race Relations Committee and affiliates to make representations to the Government, Devolved Administrations, Inspection bodies,

LEAs and schools to ensure:

i) that educational provision is inclusive of BME and other minority learners, specifically Muslims, by actively promoting awareness and implementation of the UNCRC and the UN RRS programme to promote learner well being, inclusion, achievement and equality; and

ii) active consultation and engagement with BME groups and communities, as required by the UNCRC and Race Relations Amendment Act, to eliminate discrimination, promote racial equality and social cohesion and also to prevent extremism.

Conference further urges the TUC Race Relations Committee to engage in key consultation and scrutiny processes in respect of education-related race equality, inclusion and social cohesion activities.


election Results

For the TUC Race Relations Committee 2009-10

The following were nominated to the TUC Race Relations Committee for 2009- 20010

The following were elected unopposed in Section B:

Dotun Alade Odumosu


Pauline Anderson


Mohamed Benkharmaz


Gargi Bhattacharyya


Freddie Brown


Mark Clifford


Floyd Doyle


Zita Holbourne


Roger King


Michael Nicholas


Harish Patel

Unite- T&G Section

Rajinder Sagoo


Ian Taylor


Maureen Williams


SECTION B (Four Places)

The following were elected unopposed in Section B:

Indira Bhansali Society f Radiographers

Lorna Campbell PCS

Collette Cork-Hurst Unite- T&G Section

SECTION C (One Place)

Jitu Depala Community

The following were nominated to the TUC Race Relations Committee

SECTION D (One place) Votes

Nick Day GMB 31

Phyllis Opoku-Gyimah PCS 124

Phyllis Opoku-Gyimah was declared elected in Section D



The vote of thanks was moved by Rena Wood, Unison and seconded by Carmen Wright, Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union.


Conference voted for Resolution 2 - 'Agenda for Economic Recovery' to be sent to TUC Congress 2009.

The Conference ended at 11.30am on Sunday 26 April 2009.


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