Pictured: Surrey and Sussex Healthcare branch #TaketheKnee in solidarity, including Black Members Officer David Davidson, Health & Safety Officer Rachel Day and Branch Secretary Debbie Miles
The brutal, racially motivated, murder of George Floyd has opened up many vital, important conversations about racial injustice globally and in our communities, this is combined with the initial delay and then eventual release of the report into the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black people.
We are clear as a union that Black Lives Matter and that we are committed to campaigning against all forms of discrimination, racism and inequality experienced by our Black Members in the workplace.
Together, we have to continue to ensure our Black members’ voices are heard and they are protected in their workplaces, as well as continue to challenge employers to identify and tackle unfair or discriminatory practices. We are encouraging all branches to reach out to and show solidarity with our Black members at this time.
Bill Acharjee, (pictured left, at the Black Lives Matter protest in Southampton earlier this week) is the Black Members Officer for Southampton District Branch.
Bill has sent a message of solidarity to all Black members in Southampton this week:
“The events over the last few days have highlighted inequalities and fundamental issues within our society. We want to reassure our community that you are not alone, and you do matter! UNISON is committed to eliminating racial inequalities and tackling structural and societal racism within our workplaces and society through our National Black Members Network.For any members of our community feeling angry, sad, scared, or frustrated we are here to support you.We stand in solidarity with our Black members! #BlackLivesMatter #BlackMembersMatter”
In Surrey and Sussex Healthcare branch, a group of activists took part in a peaceful protest this week (main picture). David Davidson, the Branch Black Members Officer spoke to us about his feelings right now.
“My idea of racism is, it is a disease of the mind. The effects of this, I believe, is laden within the conscious and subconscious. Only when this, so called, disease of the mind is cured, making a gesture of going down on one knee, in my opinion, will only be a momentary fad, like that of the ‘ice bucket challenge’ or like the ‘Gangnam-style’ dance moves. I am only hoping that by going on one knee, in the memory of George will not fade away easily in the memory of all those present. I am also hoping, that this will be the catalyst for racism not to be once again prevalent in our societies.
Whilst on one knee, I had the image of this police officer who was sworn to protect, having his hand coolly in his pocket and a knee pressed tight on George Floyd’s neck, slowly suffocating the life out of him. This brought to my mind, of how black people have suffered mercilessly throughout history, the oppression being the knee on neck and the hand in the pocket symbolising not addressing racism.
I can only dream, that one day, this disease called racism will die a horrible death and will be eradicate forever in the minds of all human beings.”
Andrea Knowles, (pictured below) is the Black Members Officer at Surrey UNISON Community Health Branch.
“Generations of Black staff have made the NHS what it is today.
Yet many Black staff in the NHS still face the injustice of racism and inequality at work every day.
Racial discrimination isn’t just wrong. It’s against the law. It wastes talent, damages staff, hurts patients, and holds the NHS back.
It’s time to stop suffering in silence.”
It’s important to UNISON that our activists truly reflect our membership. If you are a Black member in UNISON, then your voice should be heard.