Clare Williams the Northern Region Secretary of UNISON spoke at our Staff and Management Committee Away Day last week. Here are some of the highlights of her speech.
This organisation is vital to the work we at UNISON do to combat racism in the workplace and wider communities. We know there has been an increase in racism and hate crime which was stoked by some of the rhetoric in the European Referendum, particularly from UKIP. There is early evidence that the number of migrant workers and students coming to the North East has reduced since the Referendum, and there has been incidents of racist comments in workplaces such as “we don’t want immigrants here”, our response must be that Immigrants help run our NHS and social services. 10% of the workforce in NHS and Social Care are migrant workers and they are now feeling under attack and undervalued. We already have a shortage of staff in Health and Social Care workers and this anti-immigrant sentiment will only make matter worse.
UNISON in the Northern Region has been involved in Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) since it’s inception in January 1996, but in the last 2 years we have tried to embed their anti-racism work into all our structures. So we use SRtRC to train our staff and members from the branches to the area forums. The fundamental strength of SRtRC is education and we have managed to engage our members in a number of different discussions in a safe space to challenge difficult questions.
The take up of SRtRC is the highest subscribed events we have held in the region and the feedback is always extremely positive. For example, we ran a 10 week programme to create SRtRC Ambassadors. This course was immediately over subscribed and the feedback was phenomenal. It was also a great way to introduce the union to new members and to encourage them to become active. It was one of the highlights of the work we did last year.
We are keen to develop this work in 2017/18 and have committed to a work programme of £20,000 from Northern Region UNISON. We are keen to develop the Ambassadors programme and get SRtRC working with more of our members in our branches. Unison are proud of our work with our self organised groups and look forward to working with your new HBT Bullying Coordinator Natalie Roberts to develop some joint working activities with our LBGTQI group in the region.
Finally, we also work internationally with SRtRC and the work that you did last year in Colombia with young people via ourselves and Nomadesc is still talked about by the people over there. Your educational delivery is truly making a difference to thousands of people and on behalf of UNISON I would like to thank all of you for the work you do. Another world is possible!