l Muslims under siege l UNISON equality scheme l Challenging by dfgh4bnmu


                                                 October 2008

                           NEWSLETTER FOR UNISON BLACK MEMBERS

l Muslims under siege
l UNISON equality scheme
l Challenging Racism in the Workplace
Black Action October 2008

News in brief
Motions to Black                         Sofi Taylor, Black NEC member,
members’ conference                      said: ‘Migrant workers are vital to    Recruit, recruit, recruit
                                         many of Scotland’s industries from
National Black members’ conference                                              Black workers still face amongst
                                         food production to care homes.
2009 will be held in Bristol from                                               the highest levels of harassment
                                         Too often they face exploitation
16–18 January. The preliminary                                                  and discrimination in workplaces
                                         and discrimination.’ Dave Watson,
agenda is published 10 October                                                  so we cannot afford to put off
                                         Scotland organiser, added: ‘The
and amendments to motions must                                                  union membership. The most
                                         public sector can use its powers as
be in by noon on 14 November.                                                   common reason people give
                                         employers and procurers of services
The deadline for the submission of                                              for not joining a union is that
                                         to promote best practice.’
delegates is 7 November and the                                                 no one asked them to. Ensure
final agenda is published on             For more information see:              this is not true of your family
12 December.                             www.unison.org.uk/migrantworkers       and friends. You can print
                                                                                UNISON membership application
Talk to your branch for further          Women’s National                       forms from the website at:
information or email:                    Commission                             www.unison.org.uk/join or call
blackmembers@unison.co.uk                Sofi Taylor, Black NEC member,         UNISONdirect: 0845 355 0845
                                         has been appointed to the Women’s      or pick up copies from your local
Positive action in the                                                          rep today.
                                         National Commission on migration
European Union
                                         and asylum to monitor government
                                                                                So let’s remind everyone of the
Bradford University’s Centre for         policy and legislation. Sofi, who
                                                                                benefit of UNISON membership:
Inclusion is researching positive        will join women from academia,
action measures in the European          community groups like Kalayaan,        l unrivalled protection and
Union to understand the role             the British Red Cross and              representation at work
positive action can play to prevent      JCWI, said: ‘This is an excellent      l help with pay and conditions
discrimination. The findings will        opportunity to promote UNISON          of service, as well as health and
contribute to a report of the            views in this debate.’ Sofi can be     safety guidance and support
European Commission. If you would        contacted at: s.taylor@unison.co.uk    l confidential welfare services
like to contribute please email                                                 for you and your dependents in
Jite Eferakorho at:
                                         Single Equality Bill
                                                                                difficult times
j.o.eferakorho@bradford.ac.uk            UNISON has broadly welcomed
                                                                                l excellent legal services
                                         the government’s announcement
UNISON launches                          of an equality Bill for England,
                                                                                including free help with work
migrant workers charter                  Scotland and Wales. The proposals
                                                                                problems, pensions and legal
                                                                                support for members and their
UNISON is leading on protecting          in Framework for a Fairer Future,
migrant workers with a national          include extending the duty on public
project run by the migrant workers       bodies to promote equality, ban        l a special hotline,
unit. In June, Scottish activists took   age discrimination in the provision    UNISONdirect, for help and
members to the Scottish Parliament       of goods and services, increase        advice on workplace issues
to meet MSPs and launch a Scottish       transparency in gender pay, new        l education and training
charter of good practice guidance        rights to take positive action and     advice and courses, leading
for employers. The meeting –             wider powers for tribunals. For a      to vocational and professional
organised by UNISON Scotland, the        UNISON activists’ briefing on the      qualifications
STUC and Migrant Rights Network –        proposals visit: www.unison.org.uk/    l cash benefits for accidents
included workers from 14 countries.      activists/pages_view.asp?did=7234      and injuries at work
                                                                                l special deals on everything
                                                                                from computers, tax returns,
                                                                                holidays, mortgages, car
                                                                                breakdown services, insurance
                                                                                and credit cards
                                                                                l our own holiday centre for
                                                                                members and families at the
                                                                                Devon seaside.

Make UNISON’s equality scheme work for you
UNISON’s first equality scheme was
launched for consultation at national
delegate conference in June.
The three-year scheme includes
equality actions on sexuality, gender
identity, gender, disability, race,
religion and belief, age and low pay.
The consultation period runs until
31 October 2008, and regional and
branch groups as well as individuals
are urged to feed in comments to:
The starting point has been regions
and head office functions, with
actions for branches developed
over the life of this first three-year
scheme to promote equality and
set targets for their achievement
in order to work more effectively,
with equality firmly embedded from
the start. A key part of this will be
the development of the new role of       Caribbean people. Do we need            said: ‘We’re losing opportunities
branch equality reps – see below.        to address the diversity of Black       to challenge outsourcing because
                                         members – how do our organising         we’re not asking public sector
What’s in it for you?                    and campaigning priorities impact       employers to meet the duty to
                                         on them as women, disabled, LGBT,       prevent discrimination when making
There are two sides to it. The first
                                         low-paid or young members?              this sort of change’.
is as a tool to get equality issues
up the agenda in your branch,
region and service group. So
                                         This is not new – Black members
                                         have always understood this, but
                                                                                 Equality reps help
often, union activists can seem to       the challenge is now to address this    After training, equality reps will work
be firefighting – dealing with crisis    in a more systematic way. We will       with their branch equality officer
after crisis, with employers and         rise to the challenge.                  to identify opportunities to engage
national initiatives throwing more                                               employers to improve equalities and
fuel on the fire every week. In these    Negotiating for                         prevent discrimination. They can
circumstances equality is sometimes                                              feed this information to the branch
seen as a luxury – to be addressed
                                         equality                                negotiating team and contact the
when other issues are sorted out.        UNISON has set up a project to see      employer to discuss positive ways
By agreeing the equality scheme          how a new role of equality rep can      of working together on equality
UNISON has confirmed equality is at      help branches negotiate for equality.   issues. Equality reps can play a
the heart of everything we do. Pay,      Many branches feel they are not         crucial role in keeping equalities
restructuring, efficiency savings,       using current equalities law in their   central: supporting implementation
redundancies, contracting out – all      negotiations as much as they could.     of UNISON’s equality scheme,
have an equalities angle that needs      The public sector equality duties,      recognising issues in the workplace,
to be considered from the start if       Agenda for Change, Knowledge            raising issues in the branch, and
the best deals are to be negotiated      and Skills Framework, single status     working with the employer to
for all members.                         have opened up opportunities to         provide a fair and equal workplace.
                                         incorporate equality issues into
The other side is to look at our                                                 Three regions are participating in
                                         standard negotiations but many
own agenda. In our work for race                                                 a pilot and some of their branches
                                         branches are missing out by not
equality, how are we identifying and                                             will lead on using equality reps to
                                         making use of these.
meeting the needs of all the group’s                                             work on equality. Contact project
members? We need to look at the          Liane Venner, head of UNISON’s          manager Diana Veitch for more
distinct needs of African, Asian and     Membership Participation Unit,          information: d.veitch@unison.co.uk

Black Action October 2008

One society, many cultures
UNISON Black members’                       heritage and faiths while respecting
conference motion on                        the rights of others to do the same.
multiculturalism was supported              This British approach stands in
unanimously by union members                contrast to that of other European
and the NEC at the recent                   countries that insist that people
national delegates’ conference in           assimilate into one culture. The
Bournemouth.                                consequence of this has been
                                            tensions in other parts of Europe.
Moving the motion, NBMC chair,              Multiculturalism is in keeping with
Bev Miller said: ‘Britain is a nation       Britain’s liberal tradition because
born out of centuries of inward             assimilation, which imposes a single
migration, from the Romans,                 cultural identity, seeks to constrain
Saxons, Vikings and Normans                 individual choice.
to Dutch Protestants, French
Huguenots, the Irish fleeing famine,
the Jews fleeing Nazi persecution,
                                            Celebration as                          in our society. Multiculturalism
refugees from war, as well as               activism                                is scapegoated as a barrier to
invitations to migrants from the                                                    integration, responsible for Muslim
                                            Celebrating and respecting the
Commonwealth, Africa, Australasia                                                   radicalisation. It is even held
                                            contribution of different cultures
and Eastern Europe more recently.                                                   responsible for the attacks in
                                            to British society dismantles many
All these people have brought with                                                  London on 7 July 2005. Such myths
                                            of the racist myths that exist. For
them their cultural traditions and                                                  have encouraged far right groups
                                            example, Notting Hill, the largest
heritage, successively building up                                                  who are increasing their votes
                                            carnival outside the Caribbean and
the rich diversity that exists in Britain                                           off the back of racist hostilities.
                                            Latin America, was a response to a
today.’                                                                             Claims that we live in increasingly
                                            wave of racist attacks and violence
                                                                                    segregated ‘ghettos’ are also
UNISON is working with NAAR, the            in London in 1958. Meanwhile, in
                                                                                    gaining favour. However, research
National Assembly Against Racism,           the 1970s, support for neo-Nazi
                                                                                    from population statisticians
to develop the One Society Many             groups was countered through
                                                                                    demonstrates that the opposite is
Cultures campaign to promote                carnivals of music and culture,
                                                                                    true. Segregation is decreasing.
and celebrate multiculturalism and          bringing together Black communities
                                                                                    Data from the last census reveals
debunk the myths that exist. This           in a coalition with the organised
                                                                                    a pattern of increased dispersal
campaign is funded by UNISON’s              labour movement and musicians.
                                                                                    and greater integration. Britain is
General Political Fund.
                                            In recent years though there has        now a more racially diverse and
At its core, multiculturalism is the        been a sustained attempt to             integrated society than at any
right of groups and individuals to          undermine multicultural Britain,        time in its history. This diversity
pursue their own cultural choices,          blaming it for many problems            has significantly contributed to the

 ‘Segregation is
 not increasing,
 it is decreasing
 – government
 and academic
 studies all show
 that each group is
 increasingly spread
 throughout Britain.’
                                                                                                                           Photo: Philip Wolmuth

       Dr Ludi Simpson,
           researcher in
       population trends

country’s economic and social
development and continues to do
so today.

Safer and more united
Despite campaigns in the tabloid
press and hostile reports claiming
multiculturalism threatens our
security, the opposite is in fact the
case. Following the 2005 bombings,
the loyalty of the entire Muslim
                                        Photo: Philip Wolmuth

community has been questioned
even though a MORI poll conducted
in 2007 showed that Muslims
overwhelmingly support western
democracy. Multiculturalism unites
society because every culture is
respected equally and given a stake.                            ‘This House believes that
                                                                multiculturalism is the bedrock for
Anti-discrimination laws need to be                             a diverse and inclusive society;
strengthened; and strong messages                               further believes that achieving
for equality and against racism must                            social cohesion depends on society
be promoted by local and national                               respecting the cultural heritage
government.                                                     of others and recognising the
The UNISON campaign has                                         principle of being free to follow
produced a range of materials                                   one’s own culture and beliefs while
and articles that can be used. For                              respecting those of others; therefore
more campaign ideas and in-depth                                commends the National Assembly
briefings visit: www.naar.org.uk/                               Against Racism’s new campaign
campaigns/multiculturalism.asp                                  One Society, Many Cultures to
                                                                inform people about the meaning
What you can do                                                 of multiculturalism; and calls on
l invite a NAAR speaker to discuss                              the Government to make a robust
the case for multiculturalism                                   case for promoting equality and the
                                                                benefits of multicultural diversity in
l order T-shirts, stickers and other
campaign materials from NAAR for a
stall in your workplace
l Pass branch policy in support of
                                                                   ‘I left the Philippines to work in Dubai but was very
l Ask your MP to sign UNISON’s                                     unhappy there as migrant workers are treated badly. In
Early Day Motion 1816.                                             2001, I arrived in Liverpool to work as a charge nurse
                                                                   before moving to London. In Britain I definitely feel I
Early Day Motion                                                   have the chance of equality and job security. It has also
1816 – Promoting                                                   exposed me to many different religions and cultures
multiculturalism                                                   and I have learnt to understand people from different
Some 50 MPs have already signed                                    backgrounds. This knowledge helps make the patients I
up to EDM 1816 which was put
down by UNISON sponsored MP                                        care for more comfortable. I am proud to be Filipino and
Keith Vaz. Visit: edmi.parliament.                                 enjoy sharing my culture with other people too.’
uk to see if your MP has signed up.
                                                                                                                      Manny Del Moro,
If s/he hasn’t, ask them to do so
                                                                                        staff nurse, North Middlesex University Hospital

Black Action October 2008

Muslims under siege
A new report on Islamophobia            were analysed and it was found
by the journalists Peter Oborne         that almost two-thirds of all stories
and James Jones investigates            involved terrorism; 22% were about
the scale and depth of prejudice        religious issues such as Sharia
against Muslims in Britain. The         law, and approximately eight per
report to accompany Channel 4’s         cent about extremism relating to
Dispatches programme It Shouldn’t       figures like Abu Hamza. Almost all
Happen to a Muslim charts the           the reports portrayed Muslims as a
deep resentment and fear of British     source of trouble. Only 5% of stories
Muslims after the 11 September          examined were based on problems
and 7 July terrorist attacks. The       facing British Muslims.
authors conclude that this fear has
                                        Oborne and Jones’ report provides
manifested in increased racial abuse
                                        examples of false stories concerning
and violent attacks on innocent
                                        British Muslims. Some of these had
                                        inaccurate, distorted and misleading
The prejudice against Muslims has       headlines that were likely to fan
been expressed in many different        resentment towards Muslims.
forms but the most prevalent has
been the attack from the media          The journalists also argued that
where the Muslim community              unrelentingly negative media
has faced particularly hostile          coverage of Muslims was fertile
coverage. For example, there have       breeding ground for extremist
been numerous instances where           far-right politics, which had made
newspapers have exaggerated and         Muslims a target for the British
distorted stories about Muslims,        National Party, especially after the
forcing the community to endure         11 September and 7 July attacks.
insulting generalisations about         According to the report, the
them to a degree that would not         BNP’s strategy had moved on               they were British first and Muslim
be tolerated by other groups.           from denying the Holocaust and            second. This received considerable
This has placed British Muslims         focusing instead on terrorism, and        publicity compared to other similar
in a vulnerable situation that,         by implication the ‘evils of Islam’ and   polls that have been carried out that
paradoxically, wider society appears    peddling stories of Britain becoming      contradict this image of Muslims.
unperturbed by.                         an Islamic nation. The BNP leader,        One example was of a Sky News
The report cites statistics that show   Nick Griffin was even quoted as           poll that found 46% of Muslims
Muslims have the highest rates          describing Islam as a ‘wicked,            felt they were British first and
of unemployment, disability, ill-       vicious faith’.                           Muslim second, while only 12% felt
health and the poorest educational                                                they were Muslim first and British
                                        The Dispatches programme
qualification of any religious group                                              second. This more favourable polling
                                        documented that racist abuse and
in Britain, which has consequently                                                received very little coverage.
                                        violence on Muslims had increased
exposed them to ignorant and            drastically and that this has been        According to Oborne and Jones’
hostile comments and ridicule from      the case every time misleading            report, Muslims are misrepresented
the media and public.                   stories were reported by the media        and persecuted in Britain within
In an attempt to establish whether      because it created an atmosphere in       the media, politics and society.
the anti-Muslim commentary              which racists feel they had licence to    They are not treated with decency
promoted by the media has any           attack Muslims – and by association       and fairness and British public’s
basis, the Dispatches programmer        other sections of the Black               culture needs to change quickly
commissioned Cardiff’s School of        community because they might look         if this resentment is not to lead to
Journalism to examine how the           Muslim.                                   greater hostility and a breakdown in
media reports on Muslim issues.                                                   community cohesion.
                                        A poll by the Pew Foundation found
Coverage of Islam over eight            that 81% of Muslims in Britain            The full report can be found at:
years was studied by a team of          felt that they were Muslims first         www.channel4.com/news/media/
academics. Almost 1,000 stories         and British second, while 7% felt         pdfs/Muslims_under_siege_LR.pdf

Baby milk action
A baby dies every 30 seconds            Millions more babies become               breastfeeding and threaten infant
from unsafe bottle-feeding whereas      seriously ill and the cost of baby        health.
breastfeeding gives the best start      milks impoverishes people who are
                                                                                  Pam Singh, NBMC vice-chair and
in life because it is free, safe and    already poor, affecting whole families.
                                                                                  a healthcare professional said:
protects against infection.
                                                                                  ‘Good breastfeeding practices are
It is rare for a woman to be            How does bottle-                          recognised to reducing under-fives
physically unable to breastfeed.                                                  mortality and can save more lives
Even in Britain a bottle-fed baby
                                        feeding kill babies?                      than other preventive measures
is up to 10 times more likely to be     The water mixed with baby milk            such as immunisation, safe water
hospitalised with gastro-intestinal     powder can be unsafe and it is            and sanitation. The WHO estimates
illness than a breastfed one. Where     often impossible in poor conditions       that 1.5 million infants die around
water is unsafe, babies are up to 25    to keep bottles and teats sterile.        the world each year because they
times more likely to die if they are    Bottle-feeding under such                 are not breastfed.’
bottle-fed.                             circumstances can lead to infections
                                                                                  UNISON works with Baby Milk
                                        causing diarrhoea, the biggest killer
Breastfed babies need no other                                                    Action to ensure parents base
                                        of children worldwide.
food or drink for about the first                                                 decisions on objective, independent
six months of life. They also           Baby milk is expensive, often             information rather than advertising
have reduced risk of diabetes,          costing more than half the entire         claims. For more information see:
pneumonia, ear infections and some      family income. This means that            www.babymilkaction.org
cancers. Studies show that women        bottle-feeding will contribute to
who breastfeed may have a lower         family malnutrition. Furthermore,
risk of breast and ovarian cancers      poor mothers trying to make the
and that their babies are less likely   milk go further sometimes over-
to die of cot death or suffer from      dilute the powder or use cheaper
allergies or obesity in later life.     alternatives, such as powdered
A mother has a right to independent     whole milk or animal milks, and
information and freedom from            the baby may not then receive the
pressure from companies that            nutrition they need, exposing the
produce breast-milk alternatives. If    babies to diarrhoea, dehydration
she chooses to bottle-feed she should   and malnutrition.
be aware of the risks and costs.
                                        Baby Milk Action is a not-for-profit
                                        campaigning organisation that
Bottle-feeding can kill                 works with the International Baby
Companies that make baby foods          Food Action Network to improve the
or bottles and teats are well aware     health and wellbeing of babies and
that infants die from unsafe bottle-    their families through promotion
feeding. Despite this they continue     and support of breastfeeding
to put profits before health by         practices, while challenging
encouraging mothers and health          the aggressive
workers to use their milks and          marketing of breast
equipment while others are left to      milk substitutes
count the cost.                         that undermine

‘Marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding
are potentially hazardous wherever they are
pursued: in the developing world, WHO (World Health
Organization) estimates that 1.5 million children die each year
because they are not adequately breastfed.’
                                 United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

Black Action October 2008

Challenging racism in the workplace
                            The law gives you the tools… UNISON gives you
                            the skills

                            Racism in the workplace destroys
                            careers and people’s lives. Research
                            conducted by the government
       everyone             has found that even when factors

                            such as education and class are
                            accounted for, there is no other
                            explanation for racial inequality at
   is entitled to           work apart from discrimination.

                            This is not news for many Black
                            members, because discrimination          agreements to deliver race equality
                            is affecting the employment rates,       in the workplace. This training
             fair           progression and retention of Black       course shows employers that

                            workers in the workplace, blighting      UNISON means business.
                            lives and aspirations.
                                                                     Experience from the Challenging
                            UNISON believes that its members
      treatment             should not only be challenging
                                                                     Racism in the Workplace pilots
                                                                     currently running in branches in the

FAIRNESS       at
                            overt forms of racism such as
                            harassment, but also taking
                            action to challenge structures and
                                                                     West Midlands, North West and
                                                                     Greater London regions show that
                                                                     UNISON activists are well placed to
                            processes within the workplace that      challenge racism in the workplace

 EQUALITY   work
                            covertly disadvantage fellow Black
                            The race equality duty introduced
                                                                     through collective bargaining
                                                                     However, this can often be a

                            by the Race Relations (Amendment)        challenging and complex process.
                            Act 2000 requires public                 After all, dealing with discrimination
                            sector employers to deal with            is not just about supporting a
                            discrimination and promote equality      worker who wishes to pursue
                            of opportunity in recruitment,           their grievance through formal
                            selection and career progression.        procedures, with the possibility of
                            Most public authorities are required     an employment tribunal. While this
                            to develop and implement a race          may be the only way of resolving
                            equality scheme that establishes a       an individual’s grievance, it takes
                            systematic framework for defining        the problem out of the work
                            and delivering race equality. But        environment where it originated. The
                            many race equality schemes are           root cause may lie in the actions
                            just a tick-box exercise, a process      of a manager or other workers,
                            with little drive and no focus on        the culture of the workplace, a
                            outcomes.                                particular policy or the failure to
                            Anti-discrimination employment           enforce an anti-racist strategy. All
                            legislation alone is not delivering      these issues could lead to racist
                            the changes at the pace Black            behaviour not being adequately
                            members need. That’s why                 challenged, increasing the risk
                            UNISON’s Challenging Racism              that Black workers will experience
                            in the Workplace training course         discrimination time and again.
                            is harnessing the full force of the      Of course, race equality is not
                            law to improve the quality of Black      just an issue for Black workers.
                            people’s working lives. It is designed   Branches must ensure there is
                            to empower branch negotiators            discussion amongst all members
                            to use collective bargaining             so that they understand what

                                                                                  Case study:
                                                                                  ‘Equality matters in UNISON’ was
                                          to enable branch representatives        the message from the challenging
                                          to negotiate with employers about       racism in the workplace training
                                          challenging racial discrimination.      delivered to Scottish Black
                                                                                  members in Edinburgh.
                                          First steps gives branches a
                                          starting point to determine the         The national race equality officer,
                                          extent to which an employer             Pav Akhtar, spelled out UNISON’s
                                          is committed to equality of             belief that all members should
                                          opportunity, it identifies whether      be challenging racism and taking
                                          there is a systematic approach to       action to tackle structures and
the legislation says and why it is        equality based on good employment       processes in workplaces that
needed. The effects of the Race           practice and includes key questions     disadvantage Black workers.
Relations (Amendment) Act 2000            to ask during negotiations with
will impact on all members, placing                                               Tamar Mhura who was one of
a responsibility on them to improve                                               the 17 members that attended
the way services are delivered to all     Issues for collective bargaining        the training said: ‘Discrimination
service users and changing ways of        gives details of the sort of issues     affects employment prospects
working.                                  affecting Black workers in the          and progression of many
                                          workplace, plus a checklist to begin    Black workers. Dealing with
Branches need to consider how             the information-gathering process to    discrimination through collective
they will engage Black workers –          inform negotiations.                    bargaining means tackling the
who, according to the law, must be                                                root cause of the problem, such
consulted – and use the opportunity       Next steps gives advice on
                                                                                  as a manager, other workers, or
to recruit and involve Black workers in   developing practical action for
                                                                                  the culture of the workplace.’
something that can make a difference      collective bargaining for Black
to the quality of their daily lives.      workers.                                ‘I’m looking forward to the rest
                                                                                  of the Challenging Racism in the
                                          Enforcement outlines what steps a
Pav Akhtar, UNISON’s national                                                     Workplace course because it will
                                          branch can take if the employer fails
race equality officer, said: ‘The                                                 give me the skills and confidence
                                          to comply with its legal duties under
Challenging Racism in the                                                         to identify problems and then deal
                                          the race relations legislation.
Workplace course aims to help                                                     with them effectively to ensure all
branches become active in                 Further information signposts           workers are treated fairly.’
identifying and challenging those         additional guidance and lists
                                                                                  Ismail Donmez, secretary to
issues that affect Black workers          organisations that can provide
                                                                                  the Scottish Black members’
collectively, rather than focusing only   further advice.
                                                                                  committee added: ‘It was
on individual concerns, so that all
                                          Black members’ self-organised           delightful to see so many shop
workers are treated fairly.’
                                          groups have always been at the          stewards and equality officers
Challenging Racism in the                 forefront of campaigning for better     from different branches attend
Workplace has a range of learning         rights for workers and where            the training. I am confident it
resources and guidance, including         branches have Black members’ self-      will enable trainees to serve our
a practical toolkit with model letters,   organised groups they should be         members well.’
posters, leaflets, a powerpoint           involved in the process of looking
presentation, dedicated web site,         at race equality schemes and their
regional and national officer support     implications. This helps the branch
and a two-day training course             campaign and organise around
covering six distinct sections:           equality.

What the law says gives a                 If you want to find out more about
summary of the Race Relations Act         UNISON’s Challenging Racism in
1976, as amended by the Race              the Workplace course contact the
Relations (Amendment) Act 2000,           project manager Pav Akhtar:
which provides the legal framework        P.Akhtar@unison.co.uk

Black Action October 2008

Black History Month: filling in the blanks
Promote multiculturalism, boost
knowledge of the contribution
of Black Britons to UK society,
and recruit new members with
our practical guide to celebrating
Black History Month.
Black History Month every
October enables branches to raise
awareness of the rich cultural
diversity and heritage of our
communities, as well as reflecting
on and celebrating the huge
achievements of Black people
and their lives in the UK over the
Some people may ask why we need
Black History Month at all, but the
reality is that Black history is often
ignored in mainstream British history.
More accurately, it was never written
in. For most people, history taught in
school was a strictly all-white affair.
That’s about to change for the
next generation of UK children,
with learning about Black history
now compulsory in schools for the
first time. The new academic year
started last month with confirmation
from the government that the
secondary school curriculum will
now cover the UK’s involvement in
the slave trade, as well as its links to
colonisation, industrialisation and the
British Empire.
This is a massive victory for
UNISON, which has long
campaigned for Black history to be         UNISON’s Black History Month poster celebrates the contributions Black
taught in schools – in particular,         people have made to British society.
the history of the trans-atlantic
slave trade and the part played            Black History Month events can help     There are many things that every
by enslaved people in their own            UNISON’s campaign to destroy the        branch can do – not all of which
emancipation.                              arguments of the BNP and its like.      take much time or resources - for
                                           Because no matter what our skin         instance, organise a workplace
Importantly, in this 60th anniversary
                                           colour, it is vital to understand the   stall with information on how to get
year of the arrival of the SS Empire
                                           past if we are to stamp out racism      involved in UNISON and the Black
Windrush at Tilbury Dock, filling
                                           and forge a successful multicultural    members’ self-organised group. This
in these blanks in our history will
                                           society based on mutual respect.        offers the possibility for increasing
help to combat the myth that Black
                                                                                   participation and recruitment.
people’s history in Britain only           Black History Month can only
began after World War Two. Such            strengthen our union, our               As with any campaign, it is
inaccuracies are, of course, bread         membership, and the work it             vital to make full use of branch
and butter for the far right. Staging      undertakes.                             communications. For instance, if

the branch has a newsletter you          l Mount wall displays reflecting the
could feature a contribution from a      local African, Asian or Caribbean
local Black hero – a nurse, teaching     community. Showcase initiatives
assistant or council worker – to give    run with the Black community,
the piece more relevance.                such as attendance at carnivals or
                                         community events
Black History Month activities
can also be organised to reflect         l Run a poetry competition for
UNISON’s three key objectives            members about celebrating Black
of recruiting, organising and            history.
representation; negotiations and
bargaining; and campaigning,             Campaigning
including international work.
                                         l Contact a local Unite Against
It is hoped that these ideas             Fascism or Searchlight group or link
will inspire local and regional          with other branches in your area and
activities and develop a greater         invite Love Music Hate Racism to
understanding of the issues through      run a music gig or a bhangra, jazz
the prism of our shared, multicultural   or world music night in a local venue
society. Of course, you can also         l Engage local football teams to
use these ideas to celebrate trade       organise a kick racism out of football
union activity and Black members’        match. Invite the community and
contributions all year-round.            local workplace teams too. Order
                                         materials from Show Racism the
Organising and                           Red Card
recruiting                               l Set up panel debates about             Slavery memorial
l Organise open-house events at          racism in the workplace, or the
                                         under-representation of Black
your branch. Invite Black members
to come along and learn about            people in society. Contact the           The UK’s first annual slavery
UNISON’s work, how it benefits           Membership Participation Unit about      memorial day was marked
them and how to get involved;            ideas for speakers.                      on 23 August this year with
                                                                                  events across the country. The
l Work with employers and branch         International work                       government announced earlier
officers to facilitate training events                                            this year that the date would be
over the month. Use promotional          l Promote global justice and
                                                                                  adopted as the focal date for
materials to target the needs of         organise a fundraising evening,
                                                                                  national commemorations.
Black members;                           such as a raffle, with proceeds
                                         going to charity. Contact UNISON         The date is already marked as
l Work with the National Assembly        International for ideas                  the UN’s International Day for the
Against Racism to promote                                                         Remembrance of the Slave Trade
UNISON’s One Society Many                l Invite speakers from the Cuba,
                                                                                  and its Abolition.
Cultures campaign. Use promotional       Palestine or Venezuela solidarity
materials to build anti-racism;          campaigns to illustrate struggles for    The government has also said
                                         liberty by Black people                  that groups looking to mark
l Invite Thompson’s Solicitors to                                                 the 23 August in the coming
                                         l Show films from Africa, Asia and
run a Q&A session or surgery for                                                  years will be able to apply to the
                                         the Caribbean
Black members.                                                                    Heritage Lottery Fund for support
                                         l Run an international food fair.        as well as the Big Lottery Fund
Communication                            Engage workers from different            and Arts Council England.
                                         backgrounds to promote their
l Produce a calendar of Black                                                     From this September, the slave
                                         national heritage identities. Ask
History Month initiatives in your                                                 trade became a compulsory
                                         workplace caterers to prepare
branch and local area. Make this                                                  element in schools (under Key
                                         themed menus from around the
available to members on branch and                                                Stage 3 of the history curriculum)
workplace noticeboards, website                                                   and pupils will learn about the
and newsletter. Ensure you promote       For more details contact Pav Akhtar,     history and impact of slavery
your initiatives to staff in the         UNISON’s national race equality          alongside other important events
workplace and community – don’t          officer, by email: blackmembers@         in the last century, such as the
forget to send a press release to the    unison.co.uk or visit:                   World Wars and the Holocaust.
local media;                             www.unison.org.uk/blackmembers

Black Action October 2008

Legal information
Racial harassment: Liability of employer for acts of a third party
Black people who suffer race           treats the employee less favourably     though she herself was Caucasian.
discrimination at work may not only    than it would treat others. The court   This created a situation where she
do so at the hands of employers        pointed out there was nothing in        was subject to unwanted conduct
and colleagues but also from third     the Burton case to suggest that the     which had the purpose, or effect, of
parties. Nurses, housing officers,     employer would have behaved any         violating her dignity or creating an
care workers etc. may face racial      differently if Manning’s offensive      intimidating, hostile or degrading,
harassment during the course of        humour had been targeted at white       humiliating or offensive environment.
their employment from patients or      waitresses.
                                                                               There was no problem about C
customers. In these circumstances
                                       In 2003, a definition of racial         bringing the claim as a Caucasian
can the employer be liable for
                                       harassment was added to the             woman because the definition of
discrimination by people who they
                                       RRA. A person is subjected to           harassment says on ‘grounds of
do not employ?
                                       harassment under the RRA when           race’ and does not say on ‘grounds
In the case of Burton v De Vere        ‘on the grounds of race or ethnic       of the claimant’s race’. The question
Hotels Limited (1996) two bar          or national origin, s/he is subjected   for the EAT was whether the
staff at a hotel brought successful    to unwanted conduct which has           respondent could be liable for such
claims of race discrimination          the purpose or effect of violating      acts when they were committed by
against their employer after they      his or her dignity, or creating an      third parties. The EAT found in C’s
were made the butt of racist jokes     intimidating, hostile, degrading,       favour. It said that the decisions
during a performance at the hotel      humiliating or offensive environment    under the old laws do not still
by comedian Bernard Manning.           for him or her.’ So, unlike direct      necessarily hold good. C did not
Manning had nothing to do with         discrimination, in a harassment         have to show that any comparator
the hotel and had been booked          complaint, it isn’t necessary to        would have been treated differently
to perform at the hotel by a local     identify a comparator ie there is       but merely that an offensive
rotary club. The Employment            no need to prove that the claimant      environment had been created on
Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that        has been treated less favourably        grounds of race.
the employer had subjected the         in comparison to someone else on
                                                                               In cases where you feel you may
employees to a detriment by            racial grounds. Rather, harassment
                                                                               have experienced discrimination
permitting harassment to occur         as a ground for complaint
                                                                               you should contact your branch
when it could have been prevented,     concentrates only on the alleged act
particularly as the circumstances      of harassment being unwelcome
were sufficiently under the control    to the claimant and its effect being
of the hotel. For example it could     intimidating, degrading or offensive.
have removed the staff from the
                                       Gravell v London Borough of
bar duties. At the time the Burton
                                       Bexley [2007] UKEAT/0587/06
case was decided there was no free
standing definition of harassment      The Claimant (C), a Caucasian
under the Race Relations Act (RRA)     woman worked for Bexley as a
1976. Such claims were brought as      housing officer. She alleged her
direct discrimination claims, ie the   employer could be vicariously liable
claimant had to prove they had been    for racist abuse to which she had
treated less favourably on racial      been subjected by customers. She
grounds than someone of another        alleged this was a result of Bexley’s
race in the same circumstances.        policy, which she was informed of at
The Burton case remained good          her induction, that staff should not
law until Pearce v the Governing       challenge racist behaviour by clients
Body of Mayfield School (2003),        or customers. The comments were
when the House of Lords said the       not directed at her, but customers
decision in Burton was wrong. They     and colleagues made racist remarks
said that an employer is only guilty   to her about African and Asian
of direct race discrimination under    heritage people. C alleged that she
the RRA if, on racial grounds, it      found this behaviour offensive even

Southall Black Sisters
prove discrimination
In a key judicial review about how
local authorities fund specialist
services for Black groups, a two-
day trial finished early when Ealing
Council agreed to withdraw its
decision to withdraw funding from
Southall Black Sisters (SBS).
SBS, which is a not-for-profit
organisation that meets the needs of
Asian and African-Caribbean heritage
women, particularly those who have
                                        meet its obligations under RRA            The judge rejected claims by the
been victims of domestic violence,
                                        legislation and had misinterpreted        school that the bangle could be
had been funded for many years by
                                        how to comply with these duties.          seen as a ‘symbol of affluence’
Ealing Council. However, when the
                                                                                  saying that many watches that were
council reviewed this funding and       Ealing Council conceded defeat
                                                                                  allowed at the school were more
proposed a new grant specification      and has withdrawn its decision to
                                                                                  expensive than the simple steel
to give the same service for all        approve the flawed grant criteria
                                                                                  Kara. He also refused the school
women in the borough for the same       on the commissioning of domestic
                                                                                  permission to appeal, although it
level of funding SBS took the council   violence services. It has also
                                                                                  can still seek permission from the
to court, claiming it had failed to     taken guidance on the correct
                                                                                  Court of Appeal.
assess the adverse impact on Black      interpretation of s.71 of the RRA
women of this funding shift.            in voluntary sector funding and           As a result of the judgment, Sarika
Although Ealing Council undertook       services for Black groups.                is allowed to return to her school in
a race equality impact assessment                                                 September 2008, wearing the Kara,
exercise this remained flawed           Sarika Singh wins                         to prepare for her GCSEs.
and the council failed to properly      bangle battle                             After the judgement, Sarika said:
consider the inevitable adverse                                                   ‘I’m overwhelmed by the outcome.
impact of using the same level          Sarika Singh, the 14-year-old Sikh
                                                                                  It’s marvellous to know the long
of funding for a service for all        girl from Wales has won her High
                                                                                  journey I have been on has finally
women that was previously               Court discrimination claim against
                                                                                  ended. I’m happy to know that no
providing a specialist service for      her school, which excluded her for
                                                                                  one else will go through what I have
only a proportion of women in the       breaking its ‘no jewellery’ rule in an
                                                                                  gone through and no other pupil will
borough. Their decision was not         important ruling to protect religious
                                                                                  get banned from wearing their Kara
supported by the evidence available     beliefs.
                                                                                  again. I am just a proud Welsh and
about the needs of women in the         The teenager was excluded in              Punjabi Sikh girl’.
borough and the council failed          November 2007 from Aberdare
to follow its own policy on how                                                   NBMC chair Bev Miller, said, ‘It is
                                        Girls School for refusing to take
they should undertake impact                                                      clear that the school had breached
                                        off a religious bangle, but the High
assessments, an essential part of                                                 race relations legislation and
                                        Court judge agreed with UNISON’s
their duties under the RRA.                                                       contravened a 25-year-old Law
                                        Black members’ conference that the
                                                                                  Lords’ decision that allows Sikh
The council tried to rely on the        bangle was a vital part of the Sikh
                                                                                  children to wear items representing
policy context of the draft Cohesion    religion, and declared the school
                                                                                  their faith, including turbans, to
Guidance for Funders as the correct     guilty of indirect discrimination under
                                                                                  school. It’s a shame that each
approach to funding such services,      the Race Relations Act.
                                                                                  generation has to fight the same
even though this specifically states    During a two-day hearing Sarika           battles.’
some services can be provided on a      argued that the Kara bangle – a slim
specialist basis.                       steel bracelet – was important to her
The Equality and Human Rights           as it is a symbol of her Sikh faith.
Commission supported the case,          Her lawyers also pointed out that
recognising the importance of the       the Kara was as important to her as
issue for Black groups and their        it was to England spin bowler Monty
users, and the argument made by         Panesar who had also been pictured
SBS that the council had failed to      wearing the bangle.

Black Action October 2008

Destination unknown
Imagine being diagnosed HIV-positive: the initial fear
and then the gradual acceptance that, with the right
combination of drug therapies on the NHS, you can still
look forward to a long and satisfying life. Now imagine
that you are forcibly removed from the UK and sent to
a country where there is no NHS and no drug therapies
available – except for the very rich. This is the dread
that thousands of Black HIV positive non-UK nationals
living in the UK face every day.

Policy contradiction
The British government has a policy aim of universal
access to HIV treatment for all those who need it by
2010. However, in 2005 the House of Lords ruled that
deportation of an individual to a country where they
are unlikely to receive adequate HIV treatment was
not incompatible with their human rights. This gives
the Home Office discretion to send literally hundreds
of HIV-positive people in Britain back to their home
The African HIV Policy Network believes this is a clear
contradiction with Britain’s policy aim. The network’
has launched the Destination Unknown campaign to
put pressure on the government to delay deportation

                                                                                                                          Posed by models.
of HIV-positive people to their home countries until
treatment is more widely available and affordable.

Public health
Ratidzai, deported back to Zimbabwe, cannot access
HIV treatment in her home country because she does           Act to defend lesbian and gay
not belong to the ruling political party. Michael, who has   asylum seekers
been deported to Zambia, said: ‘Why do they allow us
to begin treatment with the advice that one can remain       UNISON’s Black and LGBT members joined ranks to
on medical grounds only to be forced into a situation        stage a protest opposite Downing Street in defence of
where we have to stop? It’s like giving someone an           Mehdi Kazemi. Mehdi is a gay Iranian asylum seeker
oxygen mask and then taking it away again.’                  who the government plans to send back to Iran on the
                                                             grounds that if gay Iranians are ‘discreet about their
There are strong public health arguments for allowing        sexuality’, they will not get into trouble. In fact, Mehdi
a concession. Those awaiting removal may go                  Kazemi’s boyfriend in Iran has been executed for being
underground and fail to keep appointments resulting          gay, and the regime knows about Mehdi Kazemi’s
in an increased risk of opportunistic infection with the     sexuality.
need for emergency treatment and an increased risk of
onward transmission.                                         An Iranian lesbian, Pegah Emambakhsh, who fled to
                                                             Britain after her girlfriend was arrested and sentenced to
How you can help                                             death, also faces being forcibly returned after losing the
                                                             latest round in her battle to be granted asylum.
The campaign wants to get 1,000 postcards filled
in and present these to the Home Office. So far 400          More information can be found at www.uklgig.org.uk
people have completed a postcard. You can complete           the website for UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group,
a postcard, or email the Home Office directly. You           formerly the Stonewall Immigration Group, which is a
can also join in handing out campaign tools, collecting      charity providing information and advice on immigration
signatures and raising awareness of the issue at             rights for same-sex couples and support for lesbian and
events. For more details and to send your email protest      gay asylum seekers. You can also sign an e-petition at:
postcard visit: www.ahpn.org/campaigns                       petitions.pm.gov.uk/Stopdeportinggay/

Gang violence tactics fatally flawed
The government’s drive to curb
street gangs and knife crime has
been challenged by research
suggesting official tactics are
fundamentally misinformed,
frequently failing, and sometimes
actively strengthen the gangs they
Based on two years’ close work
with members of six gangs in an
English city, the research finds
that schools, health services and
                                           Trident campaign. Carrying a gun can get you into the coolest of places
prisons are ‘grossly unprepared to
collaborate or respond adequately          Robert Ralphs, the project’s lead        between them. A gang’s ethnic
to the problems brought about              fieldworker, said: ‘Police and other     make-up tended simply to reflect its
by gangs’ and police mistakenly            statutory agencies respond to gangs      local area – Black, white or mixed –
target individuals who, though gang        as clearly identifiable groups of        even though the media and police
members or associates, are not             criminally-involved young people,        overwhelmingly focus on Black
themselves engaged in criminal             where membership is undisputed.          gangs.
action – thus cutting them off as          In reality, gangs are loose, messy,
potential sources of help, driving                                                  According to the researchers’
                                           changing friendship networks – less      report: ‘An unintended consequence
them into gang membership, and             organised and less criminally active
confirming the status of gangs.                                                     of this policy was the observed
                                           than widely believed – with unclear,     greater vulnerability of Black young
The research comes as ministers            shifting and unstable leadership.’       people to aggressive and intrusive
respond to demands for increased           By failing to understand this            policing strategies, resulting in
policing and longer sentences.             basic structure, the researchers         perceptions of discrimination that
Home secretary Jacqui Smith has            say, police mistakenly target and        are counter-productive.’
proposed that teenagers arrested           sometimes harass individuals who,        In one key underlying pattern,
for carrying knives should be forced       though gang members, are not             researchers found that the very
to visit victims of violence in hospital   breaking any law; the police also        same young people who had
and has unveiled a £100m youth             repeatedly follow, stop and search       been identified by police as crime
crime action plan, but researchers         the gang members’ family, friends        perpetrators turned out in reality
at Manchester University found             and classmates. This alienated           to be repeat victims of serious
evidence that directly contradicts         both the gang members and their          crimes, often having witnessed or
core assumptions of this policy.           associates who might otherwise           suffered traumatic violence including
                                           have helped the police.                  shootings and abductions.
Having spoken to and won the trust
of more than 100 gang members,             Among the six gangs in the               Yet police and other agencies were
associates and informers, they             research, not one was dedicated to       said by the research to offer such
concluded that in general gangs are        dealing drugs. Members survived          individuals little protection or help.
not tightly organised; they do not         on ‘cafeteria-style earning’, mixing     There were claims that police might
specialise in dealing drugs; and their     paid employment, benefits, living off    take hours to respond to shootings
violence is not provoked primarily         friends or family, and opportunist       in poor neighbourhoods; some
by turf wars. They also found no           crime, including selling cannabis and    families of gang members were said
basis for the popular belief that most     committing street robberies.             to be reluctant to seek help from
street gangs are Black.                                                             official agencies for fear of being
                                           Although access to firearms was
The research pinpoints breakdowns                                                   blamed for gang activity.
                                           common in all six gangs, it was
in links between official agencies         found that turf wars about drugs         Khi Rafe, from the NBMC, said:
and the communities in which they          were not generally the cause of          ‘They are mainly victims. So, there
work, tied to the flawed assumption        violence; it was far more likely to be   is a desperate need to appropriately
that gangs are tight groups bent           triggered by disputes over friends,      assess the needs of these young
on drug dealing and other forms of         family and romantic relationships,       people and their families – and not
crime.                                     often within the gangs rather than       blame them.’

Black Action October 2008

Black members’                                                                                                                                          Subscribe to
regional contacts
Cymru/Wales region                                                                                                 Scotland region                      For further information or to join
Lynne Hackett                                                                                                      Eileen Dinning                       UNISON, call 0845 355 0845
L.Hackett@unison.co.uk                                                                                             E.Dinning@unison.co.uk
Telephone: 02920 729 414                                                                                           Telephone: 0141 332 0006             Textphone users call 0800 0 967 968
National committee reps:                                                                                           National committee reps:
Sam Singh/Kebbah Manneh                                                                                                                                 Lines open from 6am to midnight,
                                                                                                                   Patricia Agu/Tamara Mhura
(job-share), Pam Singh                                                                                                                                  Monday-Friday and 9am to 4pm
                                                                                                                   (job share), Hamid Rasheed/
Eastern region                                                                                                     Ismail Donmez (job share)
Kumar Sandy                                                                                                        South East region                    You can visit our website at
K.Sandy@unison.co.uk                                                                                               Sarah Hayes                          www.unison.org.uk
Telephone: 0870 889 0373                                                                                           S.Hayes@unison.co.uk
National committee reps:
Abdul Malik, Sylvia Beckford
                                                                                                                   Telephone: 0870 770 1112
                                                                                                                   National committee reps
                                                                                                                                                        The campaigning
East Midlands region                                                                                               Claudette Livan/Judy Richards        and organising
                                                                                                                   (job share), Kathy-Ann Mark-Evans/
Tonia Williams
                                                                                                                   Kamlesh Sharman (job share)          newsletter
Telephone: 0115 847 5400                                                                                           South West region                    for Black members
National committee reps:
Nick Parkes/Selwyn Seymour
                                                                                                                   Vicki Boroughs
                                                                                                                                                        in UNISON
(job share), Sophie Whitely,                                                                                       Telephone: 01823 288031              Black Action supports Black self-
Lisa Edwards                                                                                                       National committee reps:             organisation in a number of ways:
Greater London region                                                                                              Roshni Singh, Kim Long
Colin Inniss                                                                                                       West Midlands region                 • keeping Black members in touch
I.Inniss@unison.co.uk                                                                                              Ray Salmon                           • providing news and information
Telephone: 020 7535 2100                                                                                                                                • exchanging views and ideas.
National committee reps:                                                                                           Telephone: 0121 685 4200
                                                                                                                                                        For Black Action to be a successful tool
Khi Rafe, Georgette Johnson,                                                                                       National committee reps:             in Black self-organisation, we need to
Margaret Greer                                                                                                     Pat May, Doreen Brown,               make sure we are reaching our intended
Northern region                                                                                                    Jenny Forbes/Esmie Reed              readers. This means keeping an up-to-
Ruth Berkley                                                                                                       (job share)                          date distribution list.
R.Berkley@unison.co.uk                                                                                             Yorks & Humberside region
Telephone: 0191 245 0800                                                                                                                                We need your help to do this. If you are a
                                                                                                                   Sultan Mahmood
                                                                                                                                                        UNISON member and want to add your
National committee reps:                                                                                           S.Mahmood@unison.co.uk
                                                                                                                                                        name to the national mailing list to
Fay Round, Sushil Munakhya                                                                                         Telephone: 0113 244 9111             receive email copies of Black Action and
Northern Ireland region                                                                                            National committee reps:             other information, please complete the
Pamela Dooley                                                                                                      John Campbell, Pam Sian,             online form on our website:
P.Dooley@unison.co.uk                                                                                              Betsy Saidani                        www.unison.org.uk/blackmembers/
Telephone: 02890 770813                                                                                                                                 mailinglist.asp
                                                                                                                   National disabled members’
National committee reps: vacant                                                                                    committee
                                                                                                                                                        If you need hard copies or multiple
North West region                                                                                                  Ingrid Browne-Wallace                copies, please contact your Regional
Jason Hunter                                                                                                       National lesbian, gay, bisexual      Black Members’ contact above.
J.Hunter@unison.co.uk                                                                                              and transgender committee
Dion Baugh D.Baugh@unison.co.uk                                                                                    Bev Miller, Julie Biggs
Telephone: 0161 211 1000
                                                                                                                   National women’s committee
National committee reps:
                                                                                                                   Davena Rankin, Gloria Hanson
Ade Alao, Angie Marriott,
Bharti Ramji

Designed, published and produced by UNISON Communications, UNISON, 1 Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9AJ CU/OCTOBER 2008/17637/UNP REF 10285.

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