POLITICIANS have backed a campaign by one of Scotland's largest unions to tackle racism and discrimination in the workplace.

Unison Scotland's Black workers committee officially launched its drive to improve working conditions against a backdrop of discrimination, calling for immediate and urgent action.

Speakers at the event in Glasgow City Chambers outlined the challenges in tackling racism and discrimination in Scotland and said inequalities are "ingrained" in Scottish workplaces.

Local Glasgow Labour councillor Soriya Siddique said: "I am delighted to have hosted the Unison 2023 Year of the Black Worker worker at Glasgow City Chambers. 

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"There were many speakers and frank discussions on the barriers, inequalities and discrimination BAME communities still experience. 

"It was clear that BAME communities want urgent action from legislators and policy shapers. 

"All levels of government must actively eradicate racism and Islamaphobia in all of its forms from society." 

This year marks Unison's Year of Black Workers, a focus on eradicating discrimination for the union's members of colour, most of whom work in local government services, social care, schools and health.

Many deliver frontline services and are low paid.

The campaign aims to tackle the ethnicity pay gap, which shows the difference in the average pay between staff from ethnic minority backgrounds in a workforce, compared to white staff.

It also focuses on ending the current UK government's hostile environment for migrants, including removing the international health surcharge.

Campaigners are also working towards implementing UNISON’s race discrimination protocol.

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Paul Reddish, CEO Volunteerings Matter, spoke at the Glasgow event, one of several around the UK.

He said: "It was a privilege to be asked to speak at the Unison launch of the Year of the Black Worker.   

"Critical to progress on racial equality is the role of allies in challenging ourselves and others, thereby by changing systems and institutions with ingrained inequalities.  

"Until we recognise and are willing to change the beliefs and constructs our workplaces are built upon, racial equality in the workplace will continue to be an aspiration far out of reach.  

"This requires sustained education and learning, and a willingness for all to search within for what changes we need to make within ourselves, and bring that fully into the workplace.  

"This is a job for all of us, and should not fall on the shoulders of those who suffer as a result of it to campaign for change."

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Glasgow's event was organised by Raza Sadiq, chairman of the Scottish Black Members Committee, said it was important to raise awareness of the issues faced by black workers in Scotland.

Unison says members report racism is an "everyday occurrence" in the workplace and found black members of staff had been more likely to face discrimination linked to Covid-19 safety during the pandemic than white workers.

The union is also calling for black history to form a core part of the school curriculum.

Rohit Rao, a PhD researcher who attended the event said: "The education system is working exactly as it was designed to do: to condition a segmented labour force in which certain groups of people do certain types of job, based on their race, class, and gender.

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"To understand the branches of institutional racism in the workplace requires us to understand where it takes root: in our schools." 

Kaukab Stewart, SNP MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, added: "I was delighted to have been asked to say a few words at the launch of Unison SMMC. 

"People of colour continue to face discrimination, this committee has set out clear actions needed to address racism in the work place. 

"Everyone deserves to be at their work without fear of discrimination."