DWP Group Black Members Committee organising report

We all know following the general election that worker rights are going be under heavy fire. We could do the ‘batten down the hatches’ thing but it of vital importance that we come out fighting but with a strategic battle plan. So it was good that the festive season followed the vote for much needed respite and to reflect on what we need to do as a union and as activists in our communities. Most of us are aware that hate crimes have risen in some areas by up to 80 percent and rather than abating we see a rise in overt incidences of hate in the civil service and wider society.

Along with the DWP Group Equality Officer, Bridget Corcoran, we produced articles marking International Women’s Day, Ramadan, Diwali, Christmas, Black and Disability History Month, Hanukah and Holocaust Memorial Day to raise awareness and to break down barriers that exist the Civil Service as well as outside of it.

The strength of a union is often within its density and its activists who should represent the membership. This is something that our (GBMC) and Regional Equality Reps have focused on over the last few months: How do we increase activity and density within the group? To this end we considered holding events in different regions but were mindful of the costs involved. With this in mind we approached the Union Learning co-ordinator to check whether our ideas were feasible and got the go ahead. We held our first event in London as it is one of our most diverse areas followed by Birmingham where the second event is planned for 26 February – details here.

The London event attracted several members who are not active and attendees were given an update on the national campaign by our President, Fran Heathcote, and a presentation on organising with information about the advocate role.

They also did a session on creative writing, this was a learning event after all, with the exception of the Group Equality Officer, Regional Equality Officer and I who had some minor creative differences (they are divas!), about dark and stormy nights and gentle breezes.

There was a general discussion about how we challenge the rise in hate crimes and attacks on the working class as a unit: a whole; what could we do as a union and what they could do themselves. It was a lively debate, rather impassioned at times, which is a good thing as it shows the hatches aren’t down; the periscope isn’t up: We are not peeping out from the ‘sunken place’.

We are planning more events, open to members and non-members, and our aim is to tailor these events to the demographic of the region. Using PCS Learning as a way of empowering our members and engaging them with our campaigns is a key part of our agenda.

Our members from diverse communities and backgrounds are readying ourselves for the fight and PCS Left Unity will stand with them side by side.

Annette Rochester – Left Unity NEC member and DWP group vice President

Further anti racism work:

Annette is one of the Democracy Alliance NEC candidates