"In our online survey for the NASUWT’s Big Conversation on Racial Justice, stark and disturbing evidence has emerged to which we are asking Government and employers to respond," states the NASUWT's General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach.
For decades, trade unions like the NASUWT have been leading the fight for racial justice. In the 1980s, we joined our trade union sisters and brothers nationally and internationally in the fight against apartheid. In the 1990s, we joined with communities to challenge institutional racism and in the fight for justice for Stephen Lawrence. We changed our Rulebook to make it explicitly clear that racism, sexism and other forms of prejudice and bigotry have no place in our Union. We led the fight against racism and fascism in our structures and in our communities – campaigning to defeat the National Front and the BNP – and winning.
Today, many of these injustices are still with us. Injustices that affect our everyday lives – whether that’s access to a decent job, being paid fairly, the right to work or the right to go to work without the fear of being racially abused, harassed, discriminated against or victimised.
We know that:
- Black teachers are under-represented within the profession especially at senior levels.
- Black teachers are more likely to experience discrimination in relation to their pay – to be paid less than their white colleagues.
- Black teachers are less likely to secure pay progression – and that where employers have greater discretion, they are more likely to discriminate.
- Black teachers are more likely to work for supply agencies, with fewer rights at work, receiving lower pay for the job and with zero access to continuous professional training and development opportunities. Indeed, it’s often training provided by the NASUWT which provides a lifeline for supply teachers to keep abreast of developments and to develop their knowledge and skills.
- Black teachers are more likely to report being threatened by their employer with capability, disciplinary proceedings and job loss when expressing concerns about their job, their safety at work, or about returning to an unsafe workplace.
Black teachers have also told us that they feel picked on and left out, and they are looking to their Union to stand with them and to take action.
One in four Black teachers say racism in the workplace has got worse since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two-thirds say their employer had failed to address the specific and increased risks that Black staff face from COVID-19. More than half of Black teachers we surveyed said that they had experienced verbal or nonverbal actions demeaning to their racial heritage or identity.
But, around half say they are not confident about reporting racial discrimination, racial bullying or racial harassment to their employer because they feel they won’t be taken seriously, or supported, or because they believe they would be victimised by their employer.
Our members have also told us that they want their union to do more to highlight the issues of race discrimination and harassment in their workplaces. And, that is why we are determined to create the opportunities for more of our Black members to contribute directly to our work on racial justice at work and to support all of our members to challenge and speak out against racism.
In our online survey for the NASUWT’s Big Conversation on Racial Justice, stark and disturbing evidence has emerged to which we are asking Government and employers to respond, including the findings that:
- Nearly three quarters (73%) of Black teachers had experienced or witnessed racial discrimination or harassment in their workplace.
- Only one quarter (25%) of teachers felt that enough was already being done in schools and colleges to promote racial justice.
- Just 21% of all teachers told us they had received specific training on racial equality in the past two years.
During the pandemic, the NASUWT has been a vital lifeline for members – Black and White – securing safer workplaces, resisting unacceptable employer practices and protecting jobs and incomes of workers during the pandemic.
When members have been exploited by zero hours contracts, low pay and injustice at work – we have stepped up. When employers have tried to outsource jobs or fire and rehire teachers – spreading fear, driving down pay and attacking our members’ pensions and rights at work – we have stepped in. And, when our members faced discrimination and bullying employer practices – we have taken action – because an injury to any one of our members is an injury to all of our members.
We are united in challenging discrimination in job recruitment, promotion practices and in the pay system; or when teachers’ jobs are outsourced and subcontracted to agencies; or when employers use fire and rehire to attack teachers’ terms and conditions – because we know this affects all teachers and contributes to widening inequality and unfairness at work. And, we are also be stepping up our campaigning on racial justice as we respond to the independent public inquiries into the Government’s handling of the pandemic.
We can be proud that as a union we are actively taking a stand against racism and doing our best to lead by example. No doubt, there is more for us to do, and our Big Conversation is all about hearing directly from our members – all of our members, Black and White – about how we tackle prejudice, discrimination and exclusion on the basis of race and ethnicity. And, we are also clear that tackling racism is not the end of the matter. We must address all forms of intolerance and hatred, including sexism and misogyny, homophobia and transphobia, disability discrimination and religious intolerance and bigotry.
Our aim is that our Union is a safe space for our members.
This Big Conversation is just one of the big ideas from the NASUWT’s cutting-edge Black Teachers’ Consultation Conference. We are taking forward that work – across the country in all regions and nations – and with endorsement of the Union’s Annual Conference through our resolution on Anti-racism and Black Lives Matter which is now integral to our Campaign Plan.
But, we don’t simply want our Big Conversation to be about debating the issues; we are developing a programme of actions that deliver on anti-racism. Actions that will make a difference for all of our members.
Equality and Diversity is the health of our Union and it makes us stronger. And, it is our priority to be an inclusive union – where more of our Black members, women members, young members, disabled, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans members are able and encouraged to step up into activism – in our workplaces; our local associations; regionally and nationally, too. And, with the support of all of our members, we are determined to build on our Union’s proud history of reaching out and rooting out racism and all forms of injustice wherever we find it.
Join Us and Join In.
Find out more about the NASUWT Act for Racial Justice campaign here.