Norfolk celebrates Year of Black Workers

The Norfolk African choir performs

UNISON members from across Norfolk flocked to the County Hall Social Club at the end of October to celebrate Year of Black Workers.

There were a range of speakers from Norfolk branches of UNISON and the regional Black members’ group, with special guest Ruth Pearson speaking about the Grunwick and Gate Gourmet disputes, two battles 30 years apart involving largely Asian female workforces.

UNISON Norfolk County branch Black members officer Elayne Stewart-Dixon was overjoyed to see so many UNISON members at there.

Elayne Stewart-Dixon

She said: “I think everyone will have got a lot from the shared stories and lived experiences from the broad range of guest speakers.

“There was a strong narrative throughout of solidarity and the importance role of the trade union movement in tackling injustice both in the workplace and society.”

People help themselves to some Caribbean grub

The African Choir of Norfolk treated everyone to a performance of traditional African music before everyone enjoyed a fantastic Caribbean lunch.

Norfolk County activist Jean Haslam added: “It was wonderful to be able to host this for UNISON Year of Black Workers and we hope it inspired others to get involved in their union.”

She said plans were already afoot for Black History Month 2024.

UNISON’s 12-month celebration of Black workers comes to a close in December, with attention turning to LGBT+ members in January. But the union’s commitment to racial equality will continue, building on the fantastic work started in 2023.

UNISON NEC member Debbie Rowden from Norwich City branch

As Norfolk County branch secretary Jonathan Dunning explains, the union is “committed to championing equality and our self-organised groups.”

He added: “As trade unionists its important we use our collective voice to demand progressive change. The history of our movement shows what we can achieve when we do this together.

“Our branch is proud to have jointly hosted the event with other Norfolk UNISON branches and look forward to future campaigns.”