One of our core principles as a trade union is to oppose racism and to work towards an anti-racist, decolonial world. We know that workers are stronger standing together than alone and it is our conviction that there is no economic justice without racial justice.

Following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, recent events have shown us with great urgency the systemic violence that Black people are subjected to in the US, but also in the UK, because we cannot think of George Floyd and not remember the victims of racist police violence in the UK: Edson Da Costa, Rashan Charles, Jimmy Mubenga, to name only a few.

The branch committee has voted to donate £500 to the Leeds-based Racial Justice Network, as a mark of our intention to support their work. We want to deepen and sustain our commitment to anti-racism to enable us to empower our BAME members in everything we do.

Closer to home we are mindful of and concerned by, the recent report into the increased prevalence of deaths from the Covid-19 virus among BAME workers in ‘front-line’ occupations. Belly Mujinga’s case has rightly received a lot of attention, and there is no doubt in our minds that the workers who have kept this country going during the pandemic deserve better. The Branch committee is heavily involved in the emerging discussions around plans to return to campus. In our conversations with the University management we prioritise the Health and Safety of all colleagues, and in the coming days we will seek assurances from them with particular reference to measures to protect BAME colleagues. We will be liaising with sister unions on campus and hopefully LUU, to see if there are some joint initiatives we can work on.

This branch stands in solidarity with our BAME colleagues. In this time of grief and mourning for so many, we promise to speak up, take action and push for meaningful change, now and in the future. We also strongly encourage our members to follow, support, and share Black Lives Matter UK and Black Lives Matter Leeds in order to stay updated and involved.

If you know of any other community-led organisations we can support, or if you have ideas about ways we can all expand our solidarity, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Black (BAME) Members’ Officers Jenni (J.Britten@leeds.ac.uk) and Naomi (N.N.Blake@leeds.ac.uk).

In solidarity,

Branch Committee