STUC hails its first black president in historic conference vote

Congress welcomes first black president as pledge to defend all workers amid assault of a hard Tory brexit

THE SCOTTISH TRADE UNION CONGRESS (STUC) celebrated the election of its first black president this week as it met in Aviemore to discuss how to fight back against the Tory UK Government and what in they view as hard Brexit assault on worker’s rights.

The conference, which is the 120th Congress of the STUC, elected Satnam Ner, a Radiochemistry Manager, from the Prospect trade union as STUC President.

A member of the STUC black workers’ committee and the STUC’s general council, Ner will be the first black President of the union group at a time when minorities, migrants, EU nationals and low wage earners of all background face deepening economic woes under austerity.

“The austerity agenda is failing in its own terms and does nothing but dampen our economy and starve our public services of the funding they so desperately need.” Satnam Ner

Commenting on the election of Ner, Grahame Smith, STUC general secretary, said: “It is an absolute pleasure to welcome Satnam Ner as President of the STUC. He is a dedicated and extremely hard working trade union representative who has given so much to the trade union movement in Scotland.

“It has been a long time coming but it gives me great pride to see a black trade unionist hold the presidency, and reflects the diversity and strength of activism within our movement.”

As delegates arrive in Aviemore on Monday (24 April) for the start of the STUC’s annual congress, labour movement leaders demanded a six-point set of commitments from UK Prime Minister Theresa May, that will see the Scottish Parliament get an increase of powers on workplace protections and migration once the UK leaves the EU.

Read more: STUC demand more powers for Holyrood on worker’s rights after Brexit

The purpose of these demands was to ensure that migrant, EU nationals and UK workers all receive the protection from potential removal of worker’s rights, low wages and loss of further bargaining rights.

The STUC congress has also issued a call for increased use of the Human Rights Act to guard against unfair dismissal on grounds of race, religion or background.  

“It has been a long time coming but it gives me great pride to see a Black trade unionist hold the presidency, and reflects the diversity and strength of activism within our movement.” Grahame Smith

Satnam Ner, STUC president said: “This is an important period for the trade union movement in Scotland. With the upcoming general election, and with the results of the Brexit negotiations putting further strain on our already struggling economy and with racism and anti-immigration sentiment on the rise, there has never been a more important time for trade unions in Scotland to have a strong voice.

“Precarious and insecure work scars our economy. Poverty is rising and real wages are stagnating. The austerity agenda is failing in its own terms and does nothing but dampen our economy and starve our public services of the funding they so desperately need.

“Decent work, fair pay, fair taxation, better resourcing for public services and a proper industrial strategy, all need to be prioritised in the coming period. Without a focus on these issues, workers could well see their living standards fall.”

Picture courtesy of STUC

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