Black workers are vital to the future of our public services, says Dave Prentis

Speaking at UNISON’s annual Black Members Conference in Llandudno, general secretary Dave Prentis said:

“Last the NHS celebrated its 70th anniversary, yet the descendants of those that came from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean to help build it are still facing barriers.

“NHS figures out this week show Black staff are more likely to suffer abuse from patients and harassment from colleagues. They don’t have the same access to training, are more likely to be disciplined and are less likely to be promoted.

“More needs to be done by managers and the NHS as a whole to make sure these issues are dealt with. It has to become a fairer, better place to work.

“Last year was also the year of the Windrush scandal.  A result of the callous racism of an unthinking and uncaring government, people who were invited here, who served this country their entire lives and made a huge contribution to society saw their right to remain here under threat.

“Throughout this vicious attack on the Windrush generation, UNISON stood tall, contributing to the consultation, supporting people directly and calling for the cap on the Windrush compensation scheme to be removed.

“Since the EU referendum our country has changed. Now Black workers and refugees are being targeted by those who feel Brexit has validated their views. Racism and anti-immigration sentiment are on the rise.

“Attitudes we thought were fading away are returning, fuelled by a government that veers wildly between incompetence and malice.

“When Nigel Farage attacks migrants, when Boris Johnson’s vile Islamophobia rears its ugly head and when Tommy Robinson’s street fascism comes to our streets, our towns, our communities – UNISON will fight back.

“It’s a constant battle to end racism in all its forms. Not just hateful words and violence, but also the structural racism that blights our society. In many ways, this racism is harder to tackle than racist abuse and violence.

“But it can be beaten. There is strength in numbers, and I am confident in the power of working people to fight injustice in all forms. Fighting for better pay, better conditions and better treatment of all public service workers. For better public services – and a better country.”