Take positive action to back BME women

Take positive action to back BME women at work

Prospect’s delegation to the TUC black workers’ conference intervened to raise awareness of the underrepresentation of black and minority ethnic women in male-dominated industries.

Mavis Amadi, a project controls engineer from Rosyth Royal Dockyard, moved a successful motion urging affiliates to press employers to monitor the position of BME women, take positive action to redress the balance and introduce mentoring.

Amadi, who is featured in Prospect’s Pioneers calendar, was representing Prospect in London in April with Freddie Brown (Ministry of Defence Central), Satnam Ner (Rosyth Royal Dockyard), Leslie Manasseh (deputy general secretary), Amin Hossain (Valuation Office Agency), Sharon Knight (Department of Health) and Miranda Lowe (Natural History Museum).

Amin Hossain seconded an FDA motion on discrimination of BME staff within performance management systems, sharing his personal experiences of being on the receiving end of such discrimination.

Satnam Ner seconded a UCU motion on black representation and Sharon Knight seconded the vote of thanks.

The theme of the conference, attended by more than 200 delegates, was “Confronting Racial Discrimination; Building Stronger Unions.”

Speakers included TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady; the chief executives of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Mark Hammond, and Refugee Council, Habib Rahman; Carol Duggan (Mark Duggan Campaign); and TUC president Mohammad Taj.

Neville Lawrence, father of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, received a standing ovation in recognition of his tireless work for justice.

Freddie Brown was elected to the race relations committee for another year.

Delegates’ experience

Afterwards, Mavis Amadi said: “It was a great privilege to attend. I found it very educational as a BME worker in a male-dominated industry. I wish to see more young people next year, because they are the leaders of tomorrow.”

Sharon Knight was struck by the scale of issues debated, for example deaths in custody, education policy and youth apprenticeships, mental health provision and the immigration bill.

“These issues don’t just affect BME groups, but everyone in the UK and in all areas of our lives,” she said.

“Although we were discussing serious issues it was a very lively event with a lot of laughter. Highlights included the Musicians’ Union seconding a motion in song and references to Dracula being put in charge of the blood bank.

“I was moved to hear the Duggan and Lawrence families’ stories first hand and struck by how willing delegates were to share their experiences, making the conference feel quite intimate. I learnt a huge amount, made new friends and I’m looking forward to next year.”