So I attended the UNISON Black Members Conference in Liverpool 19th – 21st January and this was my second time attending as a delegate. Both occasions I have learnt so much from other black people’s personal experiences in the workplace; from discrimination to institutionalised racism and so on. I attended to gain knowledge of our current issues and to be active within the trade union; which is to
‘Improve equality in the workplace, challenging racism and discrimination’ – Black Members
My first impression of attending the conference was the level of diversity. I met so many people from different backgrounds and cultures. One thing I like about the UNISON conferences is that it allows you that space to express your work life problems, without being the elephant in the room.
The overall conference was jammed packed with tons of motions and talks. Yes, there was a lot to get through. I found that a little overwhelming because I am still finding my feet as a (young) UNISON member. Nevertheless, I attended as many talks as possible such as,
- Service Group Meetings – Community I loved that we went around the room, introducing ourselves. Surprisingly I met members from my branch for the first time (it’s a small world)
- Fringe meeting – Challenging the ‘hostile environment’ – what next? I found this workshop difficult to follow along. I was unsure and puzzled with what the topic was addressing
- Workshop – Inclusive and Organising with Members This was an interactive workshop. We were encouraged to enroll onto training and functional skills courses. This was refreshing because as a young member it is a great way to progress skills. Both as an individual and as an UNISON member
As a young member…
As a young member I honestly felt a little…alone. I went with my mother who is also a UNISON member but I can count on one hand how many young people I know from UNISON. It would be nice to actually meet more new young people; however I am not too fussed with age. It would of been greatly appreciated and necessary, to include tailored workshops for young members or any form of activity to attract young members attending. Question, why wasn’t there a Young Black meeting group? Either way I do have young friends from UNISON who I occasionally stay in contact with, which is great. They aren’t from my branch or region though…
There were many motions I liked and that resonated with me,
- Black graduates and Black workers pay gap
- Black Pupils Exclusion from Schools (I was not excluded)
- Career progression of Black workers
A few highlights from the weekend was the social night (of course) I loved it; the DJ was on point and played a variety of music, which reflected the ethnic diversity on the dance floor. Everybody was up dancing and the social interaction never ended. Also to end on Sunday, there was a powerful message from a delegate. Just words of encouragements and a reminder:
‘Black people must stand together and understand how division is preventing our growth’
I don’t understand who wouldn’t of learnt anything so empowering from the conference? We mustn’t keep quiet because that’ll only repeat the past unknowingly. I strongly advise anyone out there who has experienced any form of discrimination and bullying in the workplace to STAND UP and SPEAK UP! You never know, you may encourage a neighbour to do so too.
- Watch my FIRST public speaking with UNISON 2017 Supporting young people at work
- Read up my first blog about work life struggles Self doubt. Dance & UNISON
- Want to join UNISON? Join here
To my unique readers, are you a UNISON member? Part of a trade union group? If not have YOU experienced any form of discrimination and/or bullying at work? How did you cope with your issue?
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