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NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach, who chairs the TUC Anti-Racism Taskforce, highlighted its work at the TUC Congress after its first year of work.


His full speech is below:

President. Congress.

On behalf of the General Council, I am proud to be moving this statement on taking forward the work of the TUC’s Anti-Racism Taskforce

And, I want to start by acknowledging the contribution made by members of the Task Force, the Black Workers Conference and TUC equalities committees for their active support, input and leadership.

Congress – during the pandemic we have seen how our trade unions have been a vital lifeline for working people – Black and white –securing safer workplaces, resisting unacceptable employer practices and protecting jobs and incomes of workers during the pandemic.

We have also seen how the pandemic has exposed a racial justice emergency to which our movement has also responded.

But, Congress, we know there is more for us to do. The facts speak for themselves

  • Black workers have suffered disproportionately during the pandemic – more likely to contract the virus, more likely to lose their jobs and more likely to die as a result of doing their jobs.
     
  • Structural inequality holding back Black workers, women and disabled workers.
     
  • labour market casualisation, lack of robust regulation and enforcement, and the outsourcing and subcontracting of many jobs has contributed directly to racialised employment segregation, job insecurity and worker exploitation.
     
  • Across the board, the unemployment rate for Black workers is rising fastest - two times faster than the unemployment rate for white workers.
     
  • Black workers - disproportionately impacted by the Government’s public sector pay freeze and the failure to tackle race pay gaps
     
  • Discrimination is the everyday reality for many Black workers.
These are the facts. Not hype. Not a figment of the imagination. This is evidence today of a labour market that is failing all workers.

Our Anti Racism Task Force was established not only to tell us the facts, but to be a force for action – drawing on the active leadership of our trade unions as we step up our campaigning in our workplaces, in our movement and across the labour market.

Because, our unions can never, and will never, stand by while any worker - black or white - cleaner, shop worker or postal worker, health care or transport worker, teacher or footballer – is a victim of racism when they are just doing their job

When workers are exploited by zero hours contracts, low pay and injustice at work – we step up

When employers outsource jobs or fire and rehire their workers - spreading fear, driving down pay and attacking our members’ pensions and rights at work – we step in

And, when any worker faces discrimination, bullying or injustice at work – again, we must be vocal, visible and we must act

I am proud that in our first year, through the Taskforce, we have set about countering the Government’s false narrative – and calling them out on their actions.

And, as we move into our second year, the Anti Racism Task Force will be focussed on action across our movement.

Joining together workers and communities to challenge division and inequality and leading the fight back against the government’s hostile environment agenda.
  • Putting race equality back at the top of our bargaining agenda to demand change that benefits all workers.
     
  • We’ll be organising - working with affiliates across all regions to secure the next generation of Black activists and trade union leaders – ensuring our unions look and sound even more like the members we represent
And, ensuring our reps have the tools and the confidence they need to negotiate successfully for racial justice at work
 
  • We will be inviting all affiliates to put racial justice front and centre of your own work as employers – demonstrating our capacity to lead by example in building inclusive and safe workplaces for all.
And, we will be working together as a movement to ensure that the experiences of Black workers are front and centre of our response to the Independent Public Inquiry into the government’s mishandling of the pandemic.

We will be demanding answers and that lessons are learned.

Congress, this will take the effort of the whole of our movement.

Now is the time to mobilise and organise for racial justice at work.

The time for our unions to come together - to lead the charge – to step up our anti-racist campaigning, our actions and our resolve to secure racial justice, dignity and respect at work and to hold government and employers to account.


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