Norfolk celebrates Year of Black Workers

Norfolk local government and health staff flocked to county hall at the end of October to celebrate UNISON’s Year of Black Workers.

They were treated to a range of speakers from UNISON’s regional Black members and local branches, while guest speaker Ruth Pearson talked staff through the legacy of the Grunwick and Gate Gourmet disputes, two strikes involving mainly female Asian workforces 30 years apart.

Norfolk County UNISON’s Black members officer Elayne Stewart-Dixon said: “It was great to see so many UNISON members at the event.

“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”

Attendees were treated to a musical performance from the African Choir of Norfolk before a fantastic Caribbean lunch provide by a local caterer.

Jean Haslam, a Norfolk County branch activist, said the success of the event meant reps were already planning what to do for Black History Month 2024.

“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 added.

The 12-month celebration of Black workers comes to an end in December, when the spotlight turns to LGBT+ workers, but UNISON remains committed to challenging racial inequality and hopes to build on the legacy created over the last year.

UNISON Norfolk County branch secretary Jonathan Dunning reiterated the union’s support for equality and self-organised groups.

He said: “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.”