ASLEF at TUC Black Workers Conference 2021
TUC Black Workers Conference took place Friday to Sunday March 19 – 21. The conference was organised to function as more of an organising opportunity with plenty of workshops and practical sessions in place of debates to engage, educate and organise activists.
ASLEF’s delegation was comprised of Peter Acheampong (elected lay member and BAMERC member District 7), Trevor Robinson (BAMERC Secretary, District 8), Paul Patmore(elected lay member and BAMERC member District 2), Floyd Doyle(BAMERC member District 5 and TUC Race Relations Committee Member), San Senik (BAMERC Chair, District 6) and Karim Mohamed (Elected lay member District 5).
Floyd Doyle was re-elected to the TUC Race Relations Committee and ASLEF’s motion passed.
A summary of the conference is below:
Friday 19 March
conference began on Friday afternoon with a panel discussion covering ‘Racism a Trade Union response’. The panel was made up by Dr Patrick Roach (NASUWT General Secretary and chair of TUC Anti Racism Taskforce), Frances O’Grady (TUC General Secretary), Gloria Mills CBE (Chair of the TUC Race Relations Committee), Dr Fazia Shaheen (Former Director of Class), Debbie Weeks-Bernard (Deputy Mayor of London for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement and TUC Anti Racism Taskforce Member) and Asad Rehman (Director of War on Want)
The discussion looked at the work of unions in tackling racism and how collectively unions can work with each other and organisations to tackle racism.
The second panel discussion of the day was called ‘Making Black Lives Matter’ and it took a more international look at the struggles faced by people of colour. The speakers were Roger McKenzie (Assistant General Secretary Unison), Aisha Hamouda (Palestinian General Foundation of Trade Unions), Bill Fletcher Jr (Coalition of Black Trade Unionists – USA), Zanele Matebula (Deputy International Secretary – Congress of South African Trade Unions) and Anatalina Lourenco (Secretary for Combatting Racism – CUT/Unified Workers Central – Brazil)
The evening session saw the launch of an online art exhibition highlighting the work of black, Asian and minority ethnic artists. You can check out the exhibition here
Saturday 20 March
Saturday the 20th March was UN Anti-Racism Day and many events took place across the world and an online rally was organised by the TUC and Stand up to Racism, which took place at 17:00.
San Senik wrote a piece for ASLEF to mark the day highlighting the issues still present in the UK.
Throughout Saturday the delegation took part in different workshops, covering organising within workplaces, negotiation, collective bargaining and black representation within unions.
Sunday 21 March
On Sunday the conference focused on Covid-19 and how the vaccine rollout has been affecting BAME communities. A panel of experts gave a presentation to explain how the virus effects the immune system, how the vaccine was developed and how it works, highlighting the importance for as many people to get vaccinated as possible.
ASLEF’s Motion to Conference
Conference is shocked at the homelessness crisis in BAME communities; someone from an ethnic minority becomes or is threatened with homelessness every eight minutes in England.
11% of homeless people applying for help are black despite only make up 3% of households; Asian lead applicants accounted for 6% of homeless applications yet only make up 8.1% of the populations.
Conference believes that in the wake of the Covid pandemic these already terrible statistics are likely to soar and the housing emergency intensify.
The inequality and systemic racism within the housing system must be addressed; Conference calls on the TUC Race Relations Committee to –
- lobby the government to conduct an urgent review into the disproportionate impact of homelessness on black, Asian and ethnic minority communities
- launch a campaign demanding an increase in the number of decent, affordable social homes in the UK.
- invite a speaker from homeless charity shelter to the 2022 TUC Black Workers Conference.