Black Workers and Disabled Equality Conference Reports

COMMUNICATION WORKERS UNION

BLACK WORKERS CONFERENCE

17TH OCTOBER 2017 – CITY HALL, BRISTOL

Amarjite Singh, Chairperson opened the meeting and gave apologies for the President, Jane Loftus, who was at a National Executive Meeting. Amarjite also reported on the Refugee problems in Bangladesh, and thanked the SW Region and Branches for their donations. This now amounts to, at present, £1,200.

Linda Roy, National Equality Officer, took the rostrum and reported on the fact that it was Black History Month, and informed the conference of the celebrations that have been going on all over the country. Linda also spoke briefly on the lack of membership, and why we are redesigning the union. She said that it was imperative that the equality objectives will not be forgotten. She mentioned the CWU will continue to challenge the barriers inside and outside the workplace.

Reference Back – Motion 10 by the Race Advisory Committee was not allowed on the order paper.

The SOC argued that there was no instruction to the RAC (Race Advisory Committee), or any department in the CWU, that was the reason it was not allowed on the order paper.

Your Branch delegates voted against the reference back, but it was carried. This motion was inserted to follow motion 9 in section 2 on the order pad.

Reference Back – Motion E1 by the Race Advisory Committee was not allowed on the order paper.

The SOC argued that the motion in its containment mentions the 25th August. This should have read since 25th September, and asked conference to reject the reference back. The speaker on behalf of the RAC said that this was a typo error and asked the conference to vote with their hearts and not their heads.

Your Branch Delegates voted for the reference back, and it was carried unanimously. The motion was inserted before motion 3 in section 2 on the order pad.

Marvyn Rees, Mayor of Bristol, gave a short speech.  He said that he is a British Labour Party politician and since May 2016, he has served as Mayor of Bristol. He said that he was the Founder and Programme Lead at The Bristol Leadership Programme, a two-week programme that will help a dozen people annually from impoverished backgrounds to attain what they aspire to. He is also a former Director of the Bristol Partnership whose goals are to make Bristol’s prosperity sustainable, reduce health and wealth inequality, build stronger and safer communities, and raise the aspirations and achievements of young people and families. He commented on the fact that Bristol is a beautiful city, but still has depraved areas, and his basis of election was his determination to rectify this. He passed on his thanks onto the CWU who was also an integral part to his election, who actually is the first Labour Mayor for a very long time.

Section 1 – Industrial Issues

Motion 1 – Mover RAC, seconded formerly.

This motion was about the BAME Officers in Royal Mail, and their lack of inclusion in Industrial Relations. It is required that a degree of recognition is needed in conjunction to maximise the BAME role. This is already being done in the telecoms sector and needs to be reciprocated in the RM sector.

There was opposition to the motion, and a question to the RAC. How would the RAC negotiate with the company with regards to the fact that IR work is done on facility time, BAME work is not.

The right of reply was waived, and the RAC did not answer the question.

Your branch delegates voted for the motion, and the motion was carried unanimously.

Motion 2 – Mover Greater London Combined, seconded formerly.

The motion called for the RAC to work with Industrial Executives and branches to record and collate the ethnicity or our members who are going through disciplinary action, or have formally complained about their performance markings. This will enable us to identify areas of concern.

Winston Richards (RAC) supported the motion and in doing so made reference to the fact that 8 of the London Boroughs have had BME workers registering bullying. He added that racial discrimination still exists and this motion seeks to achieve the eradication of racial bullying. Branches need to be at the forefront of this by keeping records of any forms of racial harassment.

Your branch delegates voted for the motion. The motion was carried with 1 abstention.

Section 2 – National Issues

Motion E1 – Mover RAC, seconded formerly.

This motion attempted to addressed the subject of the exodus from the Rakhine state in Myanmar, and the comments made by their government, which were disgusting in all aspects. It also acknowledges the fact that this evacuation to Bangladesh, and the pressures put on the people and government of this country which has very limited resources. The motion then called upon the RAC, in conjunction with the NEC to lobby the UK Government to condemn the persecution of the Rohingya people, to immediately stop all training and supplies to the Myanmar Army, and to seek an urgent UN resolution that calls for immediate halt to the violence, the return of the refugees with full citizenship and human rights.

Your Branch delegates for the motion. The motion was carried unanimously.

Motion 3 – Mover – Lancs and Cumbria, seconded York & District Amal.

The main purpose of the motion was to make members aware by engagement and communication that Prostrate Cancer, if caught early is curable. Awareness is the king.

The motion asked the RAC to produce a flyer and poster to this effect to highlight this issue and run a campaign to raise awareness.

Your Branch delegates voted for the motion. The motion was carried.

Motion 4 – Mover RAC, seconded Mount Pleasant.

This motion was concerning the cessation of the ‘Dubs Amendment’ which should have allowed 3,000 unaccompanied children into the country. MPs voted for this, and to date only 300 have been received. Also the Tories scrapped a similar scheme under the Dublin convention, which allowed for unaccompanied child refugees, who had family links in the UK to be brought here. The motion then instructed the RAC to work with the NEC to a mount a campaign to heighten the desire that saw these two scheme embraced.

Your branch delegates voted for the motion, the motion was carried unanimously.

Guest Speaker – Ras Judah Adunbi

Justice for Judah, is a Bristol-based campaign against police violence which formed after Avon and Somerset Constabulary tasered a respected community elder while he was walking his dog in Easton earlier this year.

On Saturday 14th January, two police officers from Avon and Somerset Constabulary stopped Judah near his home, demanded to know his name and address and when Judah politely refused, which is within his legal rights, they tasered him in the face and wrongfully arrested him.

The IPCC served two Avon & Somerset police officers with gross misconduct notices as part of its investigation regarding the Tasering of local elder, Ras Judah Adunbi. The Bristol grandfather, who has worked as a race relations advisor for Avon & Somerset.

Campaigners have cautiously welcomed the IPCC’s announcement (Independent Police Complaints Commission). But what can be expected from the investigation?

 

Motion 5 – Mover –  South West Regional Equality Committee, seconded Mount Pleasant

This motion was an attempt to improve the Fair and Equal Course being run at present. The mover suggested that there are concerns in that it can be seen as a tick box exercise to recognise students who need extra direction. So to this the motion called for conference to concur that the RAC in conjunction with the NEC and the Education Department to put the measurers below in place before the start of the next academic year September 2018.

  • Whoever is doing the face to face tutoring of the Fair and Equal course should br privy to the student’s online responses
  • Following the completion of the course, the tutors should then provide a brief report to the student’s Branch Secretary highlighting any areas they feel the student would benefit from further guidance.

Your Branch Delegates voted for the motion, which was carried unanimously.

Motion 6 – Mover South East Wales Amal, seconded Meridian.

This motion was a long-worded motion but in essence it was about the persecution of Palestinians by Israeli forces, and children being deprived of medical care etc. The motion sought to maximise the awareness to the general public. It instructed the incoming RAC with the NEC to prepare a campaign for information to be circulated as widely as possible. Direct action should also be considered with protests arranged outside the Israeli embassy not being ruled out.

Your Branch delegates voted for the motion, and the motion was carried unanimously.

Motion 7 – this was withdrawn.

Motion 8 – Mover – Bristol & District, seconded London SW Postal.

This was the only composite motion on the order paper: this dealt with the issue of the recent report on ‘Is Racism Real’. The mover stated that polling has proved that racism is still alive and kicking in the UK. It is a fact that 15% of BAME workers have experienced racism of one form or another. This racism is coming from work colleagues. It is crucial that the CWU play a vital role in challenging racism in the workplace. The RAC is therefore instructed by conference to: support the ‘Show Racism The Red Card’ by encouraging fundraising, ensuring the anti-racism material is circulated and most importantly work with the TUC Race Relations Committee and other organisations to ask the question as to whether Trade Unions need collective bargaining on Race Issues.

Your Branch delegates voted for the motion, and it was carried unanimously.

Motion 9 – Mover – South Midlands Postal, seconded formerly.

Motion 9 was all about the eradication of the publication the ‘Word’.  This publication is instrumental, as was its predecessors, engages under-represented groups, and it worth to the CWU is incalculable. It has been noted that in recent deliberations that this vital periodical could be lost, which would be a significant step in reverse for the CWU and its equality contributions. The mover then, through the motion, instructed the RAC inconjunction with the NEC to attempt to find a way to support the publication of the Word, and its widespread circulation.

Your Branch Delegates voted for the motion, it was carried unanimously.

Motion 10 – Mover RAC, seconded formerly.

The mover of the motion was fairly terse and to the point on this motion. He said that Donald Trump’s state visit, even though it is not a state visit, but more of a country stroll, to the UK should be rescinded for the following couple of reasons: firstly racial bigotry – post Charlottesville and the death of Heather Heyer, and the White Supremacy ‘dog whistling’. British and Irish workers will be extremely offended if this man is entertained by our Head of State on his planned next visit. The motions calls for the CWU NEC to champion within the wider trade union movement through the respective trade union congresses to fully support campaigns to obtain a rescindment of Theresa May’s weak State Visit invitation to Donald Trump only weeks after his investiture.

Your Branch delegates voted for the motion, the motion was carried unanimously.

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There was the usual ballot to select two motions that the Conference can forward on the 2018 Annual General Conference, and 1 to each of the industry conferences.

Postal Conference Motion 1 was selected.

Telecoms Conference Motion 2 was selected.

This was not a difficult choice as there were only two motions!!

The two motions elected to go forward to General Conference were – Motion   3 & 8

There were 140 people attending, of which 89 were delegates from 60 branches.

 

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COMMUNICATION WORKERS UNION

DISABILITY CONFERENCE

18TH OCTOBER 2017 – CITY HALL, BRISTOL

 

Chairperson: Tony Sneddon

Tony pictured a bleak outlook from a disability point of view whether it be a society or a workplace perspective. He added that with the Brexit result and a Conservative Government the future will see attacks on disability benefits with the cessation of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and the move towards Personal Independent Payment (PIP), which has the aim of barring claimants from receiving benefits.

National Equality Officer: Linda Roy

Linda paid tribute to the recently departed Paul Molloy, Chairperson of the Birmingham and District Amal Branch. The conference gave a standing ovation to Paul for what he had done for the CWU.

Linda then addressed conference and spoke about the drastic cuts in health and social care budgets, legal aid and legal protections for the disabled. She also covered the importance of reminding management of their responsibilities to our disabled work colleagues. She added that we have the best representatives in the trade union movement and these people must ensure that all reasonable adjustments are employed. Linda gave thanks to the SW Region and the members of the DAC for all their hard work.

General Secretary: Dave Ward

Dave Ward also paid homage to Paul Molloy. He reiterated what Linda had said and added what a marvellous man, parent and work colleague he was. Dave went on to say that Great Britain has received two reports from the United Nations about our treatment of disabled people. No other country has ever had this. It is an indictment that the 5th richest country in the world has such an appalling record of disabled people who live in poverty. It is ironic that we praise, to a certain extent, the top earners in this country but treat the people who look after disabled people and the elderly throughout the country with total contempt. Society is now being forced to work until we drop, because they only earn enough to scrape a living, and a minimum lifestyle.

Dave asked / challenged the DAC th embrace both Royal Mail and BT to change their attitude on disabled people. Also, to get all the unions in the spring to get a million people on the streets and go further than ever before in embarrassing the Tories into changing the attitude of this country on disabled people in the workplace and throughout the country.

 

 

Section 1 – Industry Section – No motions

Section 2 – National Issues

 

Motion 1 – Mover – York & District Amal, seconder DAC.

Motion 1 sought to simplify and improve the PIP process, and for the DAC to mount a campaign to this effect. The mover stated that the victimisation has to stop, as the suicides are mounting up. In seconding, Tony Sneddon gave a personal account of the issues he had when he received the dreaded PIP letter. He said that people should always appeal, as the main objective of all the meetings is to remove people from the maximum benefit.

Your Branch delegates voted for the motion, it was carried unanimously.

Motion 2 – Mover – DAC, seconded formerly

This motion was aimed at ensuring there was protection for disabled rights under austerity during the Brexit negotiations. The instruction was for the DAC to liaise with the TUC Disability Committee forthwith.

Surprisingly there was opposition to the motion, this came from Kent Invicta. The only reason was that the motion used the word ‘ensure’ and that this could not be guaranteed.

The right of reply was swift and to the point – ‘This union has never worried about this word and should never in the future. The erosion of disabled rights should never be a probable.

Your Branch delegates voted for the motion, it was carried…………unanimously!

Motion 3 – Mover – Plymouth & East Cornwall Amal, seconder formerly.

This motion instructed the DAC to work with the NEC and other organisations in opposing any further government policies which will challenge the Social Model of Disability from being implemented across UK society.

PIP continues to disadvantage and marginalise those with disabilities, and also that Welfare cuts are affecting Access to Work funding. The Repeal Bill and Brexit will create uncertainty and the more fortunate people in society are hell bent into putting disabled people down where they can be controlled and persecuted.

You Branch delegates voted for the motion, it was carried.

Motion 4 – Mover – Bristol & District Amal, seconded formerly.

This motion was designed to deal with the disabilities of the deaf and the lack of support these people get following the general election of 2017. It instructs the DAC to:

  1. Lobby the NEC to continue to oppose austerity including cuts to public service and disabled benefits.
  2. Lobby the NEC to support organisations that are resisting austerity including Trade Unions and other organisations such as Disabled People Against Cuts.
  3. Lobby the NEC to support Disabled People Against Cuts with a financial donation.

Your Branch Delegates voted for the motion, the motion was carried.

 

Motion 5 – Mover – Greater London Combined, seconder formerly.

It is well known fact that disabled people have been rebellious for their right for self-governing living for over 45 years. It is also a well-known fact that since 2010 this Tory Government’s austerity cuts have been used to wear away disabled people’s access to social care and other vital services.

The motion calls for the DAC to support the TUC Disabled people’s summit, on November 4th in London.

Your Branch delegates voted for the motion, it was carried unanimously.

Guest Speaker – Paula Peters

Paula Peters is a Labour member from Bromley and Chislehurst. She is also a leading disabled rights activist, sitting on the steering group of an organisation entitled Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). She used her speech at the Labour conference on Sunday 24 September to tell the crowd just what life is like for disabled people under a Conservative government. She said that in 2010 Cameron and Osborne trained their sights on people like Paula, thanks to a chain of three choices. Firstly, they chose to try to wipe out the deficit, rather than spur growth. Secondly, they chose to do this not by raising taxes, but almost solely by spending cuts. Finally, ministers decided they had to slash welfare, but couldn’t take money off pensioners – all that inevitably meant hacking back support for children, or people with disabilities.

She said that she knows of lots of people who have a lot of anxiety about how much money they have to live on. She stated that ‘It gets to the point where you’re frightened of the thud of the postman coming up your path’. ‘You’re fearful of a brown envelope, in case it’s from the DWP [Department for Work and Pensions]’. You’re fearful of a white envelope in case it’s from ATOS.’ The worry got so much that once she was admitted to the local psychiatric unit, where staff were warned not even to mention benefits in front of her. Some have been less resilient. A friend of her’s, also suffering with bipolar, received a letter saying that she’d been paid too much in benefits. This was early in the austerity regime, when the lexicon of “skivers and strivers” was still new and shocking. The friend told others that she wasn’t able to cope with the stress. A few days later, she threw herself under a train, leaving behind three small children. “She’s not the only friend I’ve lost; this government’s got blood on its hands”, she added.

Paula said that she could go on and on for a long time, but you have other important things to do today. Paula was given a standing ovation. Dave Ward said that she was an inspiration to us all and ‘keep up the good fight’, goodness will prevail.

 

Motion 6 – Mover – Lancs & Cumbria, seconder – formerly.

Parking on pavements, we have all done it one time or another, but have probably not considered the consequences. The motion called for the DAC to raise an awareness campaign which will include an article in the Voice and produce flyers and posters to distribute to members in the workplace that the CWU represent.

Your Branch delegates voted for the motion, and it was carried unanimously.

Motion 7 – Mover DAC, seconder DAC ??????

The title of this motion is Mental Health in Children in the United Kingdom. The mover stated this this needs to be seriously looked at as a matter of urgency. Warwick University have unveiled a statistic that an alarming amount of mental health issues in children has risen by 780% in the last few years! There is a massive list of children awaiting support, but there is not the money, allegedly, around to rid the country of this dilemma. Maxine Cartwright nee Fraser from the South East Anglia branch gave a personal account of this massive problem engulfing the UK.

Your Branch Delegates voted for the motion, the motion was carried, but surprisingly not unanimously.

Motion 8 – Mover DAC, seconder DAC.

The motion simply called for the DAC to work with the NEC to attempt to persuade the powers to be for the compulsory installation of private showers and changing facilities for disabled people in all UK Motorway services.

Your branch delegates voted for the motion, and it was carried unanimously.

Motion 9 – Mover – South West Regional Equality Committee, seconder – formerly.

The motion aimed to instruct the DAC and the Equality department to work with the NEC to bring about a rule change to create a ‘Regional Equality Fund’ which will work in the same way as the Regional Women’s and Regional Learning Committee’s funds. The mover said ‘it is about time the Regional Equality Committees are run, financially, as the other equality committees, a fair and equal union now needs to do exactly what it says on the tin’. The mover added that ‘it is time to empower and encourage the change – which needs to be done’. All branches are encouraged to put motions to the next rules revision conference on this subject.

Opposition to this motion came from the DAC in the form of Johnathan Belshaw who said that branches already has to set aside money for equality issues, this is mandatory, it does not need another wedge of cash set aside (in a committee) for the same reason. He added that the majority of officers get little support from Branches? – the proposed funding method will not change this issue. If the funding is inadequate then there are avenues to go down to alleviate this.

The right of reply was swift. The mover said that “Let’s face it, the branches are not supporting the equality committees full stop. Support the motion”.

Your branch delegates voted against the motion, the motion was lost.

 

There was the usual ballot to select two motions that the Conference can forward on the 2018 Annual General Conference, and 1 to each of the industry conferences.

There was no Industrial Motions.

The two motions elected to go forward to General Conference were – Motion   4 & 7

There were 135 people attending, of which 90 were delegates from 67 branches.

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