Black Members Latest news October 2020

October is Black History Month it is a time for us to elevate Black voices and celebrate Black communities’ contribution to life in Britain.

Of course Black workers are essential to public services and to UNISON for all 12 months of the year, not just October, but this is an important opportunity to celebrate Black history here in the Eastern region and to continue to highlight the need for improvements.

We know Ambulance trusts have the lowest proportion of Black staff of any trust type in the country: only 5.1% vs both the all-England and East of England workforces being around 20% Black. (2010 Workforce Race Equality Standard report).

Black members in UNISON work to improve equality in the workplace and challenge racism and discrimination. We have many of the same concerns as other members regarding access to employment, pay, promotion and training. However, racist discrimination can deepen the impact of problems faced in the workplace.

As a UNISON rep I have supported many members through disciplinary and grievance processes and help raised members concerns to get remedies. I want to encourage more black members to consider being more involved in UNISON in their workplaceas I am the only black rep in the branch. (With over 100 workplaces in EEAST we need to have at least 5 workplace reps from within black members.)

This summer as part of the Covid19 pandemic UNISON produced a leaflet that can be downloaded for guidance for black members. https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2020/06/26128_Covid-19_guidance-for-Black_members_leaflet.pdf

Racism in numbers in the NHS

Across the NHS 19% of the workforce are Black* but only 7% of senior managers are Black.
White applicants are 1.45 times more likely to be appointed from shortlisting than Black applicants
Black staff are 1.24 times more likely to enter formal disciplinary process
28% of Black staff experienced harassment bullying or abuse from other staff in last 12 months, compared with 23% of white staff
Only 72% of Black staff believe their employer provides equal opportunities for career progression/promotion, compared with 87% of white staff.

(Figures from the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) 2018. The WRES data uses Black and Minority Ethnic (BME). UNISON uses the more political and inclusive term Black.)

What you can do

Don’t suffer in silence – if you think it might be racism it probably is – talk to me or someone in your UNISON branch about what’s been happening
Get involved in UNISON’s Black members network or the EEAST black members network.
Challenge anything that you experience or witness makes you feel uncomfortable (eg abusive language, name calling, ‘banter’/’jokes’, mimicry etc)
Challenge racist posts on social media
Be part of the conversation about racism – listen to others or tell your own story.

If as a UNISON member you want to be more involve in UNISON please get in contact with me, and if you want to tell your story this month in Black History Month please let me know and we can talk and get something up on the branch website / out to members.

All the best to all UNISON members in EEAST this Black History Month and continue to challenge racism in the workplace as BLACK LIVES MATTER,

Bear