The theme for this year’s Black History Month (BHM) was ‘Celebrating Achievements’. The PCS National Black Members’ Seminar, which was held in Birmingham on 5 and 6 October, included remembering those who have contributed to our union and how to use their legacy to take Black members issues forward.
Workshops were held on getting involved, unions structure, and role of union advocates led by me and NEC member Hector Wesley. This was very well received and led to 14 participants volunteering to be advocates. We are raising awareness of union structures and encouraging people to get involved with their regional, equality, and group structures. We also discussed roles in branches, and the impact resolutions can have on union policy. We are also developing some resources to assist people to identify contacts and information. PCS have also advised the union website is to be refreshed.
The 2nd workshop was on unions’ role in anti-fascism and racism, led by Angela Grant and Levoy Getton. The importance of dealing with these issues was agreed by all, and feedback was excellent. PCS has piloted a training course on the issue after the seminar and this will be rolling out next year.
During the seminar we also discussed the importance of pan-equality and ensuring that we are represented across all groups e.g. LGBT+, women, disabled, and youth. We now have observers from the other equality strands including ARMS, attending national black members’ committee meetings. Our LGBT+ rep, Yemisi Ilesanmi has written a blog about the LGBT+ seminar which will be featured on the PCS blog page, and talks about intersectionality and being part of an all-female panel.
There was a range of speakers on the panel – ‘tackling racism, fascism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism’ with Zita Holbourne, Salma Yaqoob, Maxie Hayles and Muhbeen Hussain which was very informative and inspiring. We agreed unions should continue to be involved with organisations tackling racism but should be taking ownership and doing more as the trade union movement.
We also discussed our role internationally to see how we can support campaigns of the struggles of brothers and sisters abroad, and increasingly how the climate emergency impacts on us as an equality issue here, and internationally to predominantly black communities in the global south. Zita Holbourne has written more on this issue, included in this issue of the magazine.
Tracey Hylton, vice-chair national black members’ committee – national black members’ seminar 2019