TUC Black Workers' Conference
The 25th TUC Black Workers' Conference was held from 20th - 22 April at Congress House in London, the only gathering like this in Europe and my first TUC conference! I was keen to see how black workers in other unions mobilised themselves and what lessons could be learnt by our new union.
Frances O'Grady, TUC president, made the opening remarks and she highlighted certain milestones that were significant in 2018 linked to Race Relations and the Black struggle in the United Kingdom. She talked about the Stephen Lawrence commemoration, the Institutional Racism report, and the existence of inequality in modern Britain best illustrated by the Grenfell tragedy. She said,
If you are from the working poor you are a second-class citizen. It was a most emotive speech.
There were a range of other speakers: Neville Lawrence, Lord Herman Ousley, Chidi King (Director of Equality ITUC) and Moyra Samuels (Justice4Grenfell). I was encouraged as part of the NEU delegation to speak to motions on how work poverty affects workers in the education sector and in the protection and promotion of grime music. I made links to the importance of the grime industry and making the curriculum more diverse.
There were panel debates, workshops on Cuba, Venezuela and building capacity and organising using social media.
This was a packed weekend of stimulating debates on what trade unionism means for Black workers. This was a great conference, delegates were supportive and encouraging and it provided countless opportunities to network with other unions.
The NEU is one of the best unions in the Trade Union movement, and all our motions were presented with great intellectual rigour. Roll on 2019!!!