16 April, 2013

Our young people face a generation of life with no employment and no hope”

Last weekend around 270 delegates and visitors gathered at Congress House for the 20th TUC Black Workers' Conference. The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Putting Race back on the Agenda’ and reflects the view of the TUC Race Relations Committee that the governments promotion of a politics of austerity has lead to a deliberate  silencing of discussion about racism and the widespread injustice that has resulted to black and other communities as a result of severe public spending cuts
Black workers believe the government’s austerity measures represent a concerted attack on black communities. Measures such as the erosion of key public services including crisis services in such areas as mental health, a concerted campaign to strip jobs from the public sector, the demonisation of benefit recipients and cuts to essential welfare benefits threaten to undo many of the gains that black communities have made over recent decades.
Motions submitted to the conference for covered a range of issues including the effects of austerity on black workers, youth unemployment in the black community, education and social division, the far right and the European elections and fighting the points based immigration systems effects in further and higher education.
Key debates centred on how to respond to unemployment, underemployment and youth unemployment as a combination of the continuing recession and the economic effects of cuts in public spending are having a devastating effect in our already impoverished black communities.
Last October the TUC published a report highlighting the effect that the recession was having on black youth employment. The report showed that among 16-24 yr olds, white young people have the lowest unemployment rates (20%), while black groups have a rate that is more than twice as high (45%).
In January, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Race and Community published a report on black women and employment revealing that the unemployment rate of ethnic minority women is 14.3% compared to 6.8% of white women. The report showed that Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are particularly affected, with 20.5% being unemployed and 17.7% of black women also being unemployed.
Delegates knew that such figures have not been seen since the early 1980s and that once again black communities face a situation where a generation of our young people are likely to face life without employment, where rates of poverty in black communities will sharply increase and where the government welfare reform and workfare programmes are likely to leave young people with no hope.
Speakers at the conference will included  TUC general Secretary Frances O'Grady,  TUC President Lesley Mercer, writer Owen Jones, Professor Elizabeth Anionwu from the Mary Seacole Memorial statue appeal, and Rafeef Ziadah, a Palestinian Human right activist.
TUC Black Workers' Conference 2013

A unique contribution to the debate on deaths in custody from NUJ member and calypsonian Alexander D Great.