Sunday, 5 July 2015

Race Equality & Organised Labour


Many thanks to Trish Lavelle (CWU Head of Education) and CWU colleagues at the union's magnificent education facility Alvescot Lodge in Oxforshire, for organising and hosting another fantastic BME Leadership Weekend.

Yet again we have been able to work with an inspiring group of BME activists from across the union who are committed to achieving race equality within their workplaces and throughout union structures.

Wilf Sullivan, TUC Race Equality Officer
As you can imagine the discussion was wide-ranging and was kicked off in fine fashion by Wilf Sullivan (TUC Race Equality Officer) on Saturday where he gave an overview of the politics of race within the UK economy and labour movement, reminding students that at times the movement has been as hostile to migrant workers as have other segments of British society. This historical positioning of organised labour in the context of race and BME workers is essential in understanding the contemporary fight for racial equality, in essence, what do we learn from the past in order to frame the contemporary strategy?


AJ Singh, Chair CWU Race Advisory
I need to thank those colleagues who attended the course to supplement the teaching and help give students a detailed insight on their role as newly appointed black and minority ethnic (BAME) branch officers. AJ Singh and Winston Richards are the Chair and Vice-Chair respectively of the CWU's Race Advisory Committee (RAC) and were able to give students a particularly detailed sense of the work undertaken to-date within the union to reform structures to enable a more sustained voice for BME members - the creation of the BAME officer post being a case in point - and the contours and context of the remaining challenges within the union and the sectors that it is represented and organises in.


Winston Richards, Vice-Chair
Both AJ and Winston also gave an insight on their own, personal routes in trade union activism, and on what sustained them in their activism. This helped structure a particularly valuable activity and discussion on how to generate greater degrees of engagement and activism amongst BME CWU members. It was particularly interesting to witness the organic development of the discussion to recognise the relevance of wider. social mobilisation of BME communities as a way of both promoting trade unionism and also tackling wider issues of societal racism.

It has been a particularly valuable personal opportunity to work with Trish on the original development of the programme for the course, and as I look back this weekend I can see how much has been achieved by those who have attended the course, which has complemented the work of the CWU's RAC, and also what remains to be tackled and overcome.
I wish the union all of the very best in this work, and look forward to teaching and working with future students who attend the CWU's BME Leadership weekend school.

Students of the 2013 BME Leadership Weekend School

Students of the 2014 BME Leadership Weekend School
In Solidarity