Black Matters - Newsletter 1

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Welcome to Black Matters a newsletter that the TUC will publish four times a year to bring you news on issues about black workers and employment.

The aim of this newsletter is to inform you about some of the important policy issues relating to black workers and the labour market

The newsletter will also keep you up-to-date with the anti racism priorities of the TUC and to uniform you of campaigns and events that are being run on race discrimination matters by trade unions.

Whilst some things have improved in the workplace, the TUC believes that the scourge of racism in the workplace is still affecting far to many black workers.

Only by being participating in trade unions and being organised can we hope to break some of the barriers to progress that many black workers face.

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Ten Years After

It has been ten years since the election of the Labour Government, and whilst the number of black workers in jobs has increased there are still major problems of discrimination in the labour market

Government policy on race relations and employment has mainly been aimed at creating good practice in the public sector on the premise that this will filter to the private sector. Over the last three years the TUC has argued that the that this is a false premise and that if race equality in employment is to be achieved then discriminatory practice in the private sector, which makes up two thirds of the labour market, must be tackled. The TUC has also argued that there is a need for a more effective strategy on private sector engagement and that more attention needs to be paid to tackling race discrimination within the workplace.

The TUC believes the institutional barriers highlighted by Sir William Macpherson in the Stephen Lawrence report need to be properly addressed in the private as well as the public sector, there is a need to recognise that in order to improve race equality in the workplace that there is a need for greater measuring, reporting, incentives and enforcement.

Next year will be ten years since the publication of the Stephen Lawrence report, which called on all institutions to take measures to deal with institutional racism. As part of its work the TUC published a new report in April looking at what has happen to black workers in employment over the last ten years.

The report 'Ten Years After' demonstrates that whilst employment levels have increased across industry there are still many areas of employment especially in the private sector where black and minority ethnic workers are poorly represented

The TUC believes that urgent action needs to be taken to speed up the pace of change in all sectors of the economy, especially the private sector, and is therefore calling for the following:

  • That the Government sets a target for narrowing the ethnic minority employment gap which includes the private sector.
  • That the Government puts in place mechanisms to measure the private sector contribution to reducing the ethnic minority employment gap to see how institutional racism is being tackled in the private sector.
  • That all employers should ethnically monitor their workforce and publish the results as part of their company's annual reports.
  • That all employers should develop retention and progression measures to ensure that black and minority ethnic workers are not stuck in low level low paid jobs
  • That the Government should introduce race equality requirements into public sector contracts for the supply of goods and services as a way of providing an incentive to companies to improve their race equality polices and practices. Those that do not meet the requirements should not get contracts.
  • That the Equality and Human Rights Commission should undertake regular reviews of different sectors of industry as a way of establishing agreed action plans for improving performance in black and minority ethnic recruitment, retention and promotion and as a way of promoting good practice.
  • That the Government should take reserve powers to enable it to place a requirement on the private sector to identify and takes steps to eliminate racial discrimination if substantial improvements are not made towards targets set by Government for narrowing the ethnic minority employment gap in the private sector.
  • The full report has been published on the TUC Web site and can be downloaded from
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Seminar for Black Women

The TUC are holding a seminar for black women trade unionists at the TUC, Congress House, Great Russell Street. London WC1 on Monday 14th July 2008 between 2.00pm and 4.30pm. The seminar 'Black Women and Employment - A Way forward' will provide an opportunity for black women activists to:

Discuss issues that black women face in the employment

Prioritise the issues that trade unions need to raise on their behalf

Plan a strategy on organising black women in the workplace and making sure that their priority issues are acted on by trade unions

The TUC Race Relations Committee will host the seminar and speakers addressing the event will be Gloria Mills (Chair of the TUC Race Relations Committee), Professor Geraldine Healy (Queen Mary's College, University of London), and Zohra Moosa (Fawcett Society). There will be an opportunity for participants to be involved in small roundtable discussion on a number of different topics.

Please contact Narmada Thiranagama (TUC Women's Officer) [email protected] for information on how to attend

This will be the first time that the TUC has organised an opportunity for black women trade unionists to come together to examine problems facing black women in the workplace. The outcome of the seminar will be used to inform the work of the TUC Race Relations and TUUC Women's Committees and encourage trade unions to be more active on black women's issues.

The seminar follows on from a TUC Report on Black Women and Employment that was published in 2006. Copies of that report can be obtained from Wilf Sullivan TUC Race Equality Officer [email protected]

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Entitlement to Work

let them work campaign banner

The TUC and Refugee Council are organising a campaign to persuade the government to change its policy on denying asylum seekers the opportunity to work to support themselves and their families. The campaign is based on the following principles.

  • Everyone has the right not to live in poverty and to contribute to the community in which they live.
  • Asylum seekers want the opportunity to work and yet the government denies them this opportunity.
  • Exclusion from legal paid employment means asylum seekers have to live off sub-poverty levels of state support, or in destitution, or be forced into informal working.
  • Exclusion from work means asylum seekers become socially isolated, deskilled and it damages their longer term chances of successfully integrating into the UK
  • Even if a person ultimately returns to their home country a period of work in the UK helps their reintegration.

Because of their exclusion from work, there have been fewer opportunities for trade unions to work with and campaign for asylum seekers to be treated with dignity and respect. The TUC believes that this campaign will create an opportunity for the trade union movement to re-engage with the issue of asylum and provides opportunities to the movement to: -

  • To educate trade unionists about the issues relating to entitlement to work.
  • Brief trade union-sponsored MPs and peers with trade union links so that they take up the campaign
  • Engage with, the Refugee Council, Barnardos and other voluntary sector organisations campaigning on asylum seeker and refugee issues
  • Increase public awareness and support for asylum seekers being given the automatic entitlement to work.
  • The campaign was formally launched at the 2008 TUC black Workers' Conference in Eastbourne, which was addressed by Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council.
  • The TUC have produced a leaflet which activists can use in the workplace and a Campaign website has been setup. A number of refugees will be available to talk at union meetings about the negative consequences of not being allowed to work.

If you want copies of the a leaflet pleas contact Steve Mills at [email protected].

For more details on and how you can help with the campaign, visit the campaign website at

Please email Wilf Sullivan, TUC Race Equality Officer, [email protected] if you need a speaker at a union meeting or conference or want more information on the Campaign.

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Anti Fascism

With the British National Party gaining ten seats during the may Council elections and securing a seat in the great London Assembly, the need to take action against the rising tide of extreme right wing popoularism and fascist politics is becoming more urgent.

Fighting fascism is not just about challenging the racism of fascists but also about understanding that such parties are a threat to our basic freedoms because they are anti democratic and totalitarian in nature and use fear and prejudice as a means of gaining power.

Fighting fascism is not a task solely for white or black trade unions but for all of us. We should not forget that our history in this country has involved resisting attacks from fascist extremists, being Oswald Mosley's brown shirts who sparked the Notting Hill riots in 1958 or Combat 18 thugs who used football as a cover to attack Asian communities in Burnley in May 2001.

Educating union members about fascism and why they need to actively oppose fascist politics and parties is essential because workers make up a significant part of the local electorate and can become active in local community and anti fascist campaigns. The more we can actively engage trade union members the more effective these key campaigns will be.

The TUC has produced a booklet called 'Organising Against Fascism in the Workplace' specifically to help workplace representatives and activists run workplace campaigns opposing fascist politics and extreme right wing parties.

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Copies of the booklet can be obtained from Steve mills [email protected] in the TUC publications department.

NO Recourse NO Safety campaign

Every year, hundreds of black and migrant women face domestic violence from their husbands and families in the UK. For many, their insecure immigration status renders them extremely vulnerable to abusive partners who exploit their position by subjecting them to often-extreme forms of violence, imprisonment and domestic servitude, usually with impunity

The NO RECOUSE NO SAFETY Campaign brings together key women's organisations to highlight the devastating impact of 'no recourse to public funds' on the lives of minority women without secure immigration status and who are subject to domestic violence in the context of the marriage, employment and trafficking.

The Campaign is supported by the following organisations:

  • ? Amnesty International UK
    ? Greater London Domestic Violence Project
    ? Imkaan
    ? Kalayaan
    ? Newham Asian Women's Project
    ? Poppy Project (Eaves Housing for Women)
    ? Refuge
    ? Soroptimist International (Rugby)
    ? Southall Black Sisters
    ? Women's Aid (England)
    ? Women's Resource Centre

For more information on the campaign and for advice and resources to help take action on the campaign see:

The Campaign is calling for the UK Government to:

  • Allow refuges the funds they need upfront to protect all women suffering abuse.
  • Provide for an exemption to the no recourse for public funds requirement to ensure women are not forced to remain with a violent partner.
  • Develop an integrated strategy for violence against women so as to minimise the chance of policy contradictions undermining women's rights.
  • Ensure that commissioning and tendering for services does not rely only on generic service provision without equally assuring and financing specialist black women's services.

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2008 TUC Black Workers' Conference

This years TUC Black Workers' Conference took place in Eastbourne from the 18th -20 April 2008.

The conference report detailing motions that were carried and Race Relations Committee election results can be downloaded from

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