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National Delegate Conference 17-20 June 2008

An end to injustice, prejudice and discrimination

by Jane Aitchison

Norma StevensonUNISON and UNISON members do not tolerate racism, said Norma Stephenson, UNISON's National President, as she urged branches to build on their good work with Show Racism the Red Card.

Norma explained that in spite of breaking her leg at her first public event, a Show Racism the Red Card Event, this is the Charity closest to her heart.

"The President can choose a piece of work to make their own during the year - and boy did I love that one! Just in case you hadn't heard, I'm from Middlesborough and am an enthusiastic footie fan and so it wasn't a great leap to combine that interest with another, more political interest.”

"UNISON helped to establish this charity and has been involved with it for over ten years. It's been brilliant in aiming to combat racism by using footballers to present an anti-racist message to young people and others.”

"As a charity, Show Racism the Red Card needs financial support and this is where you and your members come in. It's not expensive and it is important. I'm already a long way to reaching my objective of signing all our branches up - but I can always use more. So get signing” Norma warned that we shouldn't be complacent following the BNP's lack of success at the May elections in England,

"We need to challenge them - wherever and whenever we can - all year round and particularly at election times - whether they be local, regional, national or in Europe”. Norma, continued on her hopes and aspirations as a life long trade unionist, "my desire to see an end to injustice, prejudice and discrimination what being a trade unionist means to me.”

Critical of the Labour Government, many of its policies and its inability to listen to its real supporters, the workers, Norma warned not to forget the Thatcher years and added "We have been successful in the Labour Party - a good deal of which has gone into government in one guise or another. We know it's not enough. That's why we have to continue to engage - but not from the wilderness. From within - through our political fund, but not just by paying a fee, by getting involved at branch level in local constituencies, engaging with MPs and councillors”.

"We should not be bailing out on Labour. We should be continuing to push our policies, our arguments, or evidence for what they have to change, In order to keep our support.” Norma outlined ‘UNISON's vision for public services' a new publication reinforcing the Positively Public message, calling for the reduction of reliance on the private sector, real opportunities for public service workers to develop their skills, and engaging user communities who need the services.