TUC Black Workers Conference 2023

  • 01 Jun 2023

NUJ delegates attended this year's conference as union members debated issues including representation and fair opportunities.

An NUJ motion on "Black presenters and correspondents in the broadcasting industry" was moved by Tony Adams, BMC chair and seconded by Bectu.  Adams highlighted example cases including of actress  Lupita Nyong'o who has spoken openly about challenges she has faced as a Black actor in finding make-up artists who understood how to work with her unique skin tone.

He said:

“It is imperative that we acknowledge the real lack of professional

make-up artists and technicians who truly understand and have the skill sets of how to properly showcase Black actors and artists on TV and film productions.

“This issue hinders progress towards achieving equal representation and perpetuates systemic barriers. Let us rally together, urging the TUC to actively engage in lobbying efforts and work collaboratively with unions, employers, and broadcasters to rectify this disparity. Together, we can create an industry that celebrates and uplifts the talent of Black individuals, ensuring they receive the recognition and opportunities they truly deserve.”

The motion:

This Conference notes the lack of make-up artists, hair stylists, and lighting technicians who are skilled in showing Black presenters and correspondents at their best in the broadcasting and photographic industries. Inadequate or insufficient lighting can also put Black presenters at a disadvantage to their white counterparts. This creates a barrier to Black on-screen representation.

This Conference also notes the work which has been done by Equity and Bectu since 2020 in recognising and beginning to address this problem.

This conference calls on the TUC Black Workers’ Committee to work with the relevant unions to continue to highlight and campaign on this issue with employers and broadcasters. Conference also calls upon the TUC to lobby for employers to provide approved training to address this issue so that on-air Black talent can be shown on the same professional basis as their white colleagues.

NUJ delegate Saadeya Shamsuddin spoke in support of motion 20 on “The Lack of Racial Diversity in Leadership Positions”. The motion expressed alarm at the lack of racial diversity in leadership positions and called for explanation of this underrepresentation. It highlighted a damning report by the recruitment consultancy, Green Park, who found that ethnic minorities were still being side-lined in FTSE-100 companies and far more likely to take up roles which did not provide conventional routes to top-tier executive jobs.

Shamsuddin said:  

“Women of colour are fighting to get paid the same as their white female colleagues. How do you expect us to have a seat at the table when we are blocked from even entering the room?”

Conference agreed to:

  • Develop measurable strategies to increase and support more colleagues from diverse background in navigating the professional environment.
  • Promote achievable initiatives that empower BME communities to radically improve proportionality within leadership structures.
  • Address the root causes of low promotion rates among workers from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.
  • Promote the importance of an inclusive working environment—where BME workers feel valued and respected as individuals.

Leoni Robertson, part of the NUJ’s delegation, seconded Equity’s motion on Immigration, asylum, and racism in media reporting. The motion noted significant concern by Equity’s Race Equality Committee that the Home Secretary is actively encouraging the UK media to use racist and xenophobic language to describe those seeking asylum in the UK.

It read:

Despite attempts in the Nationality & Borders Act 2022 to undermine the right to seek asylum, this right remains whilst the UK remains a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention. Thus, the use by the Home Secretary and significant elements of the UK media to describe those seeking asylum as ‘illegal immigrants’ prior to the processing of asylum claims is not only incorrect it is accelerating hatred and contempt for a highly vulnerable group of people.

Conference passed the motion and agreed to:

  • Support the NUJ to ensure that all members working across media outlets following the guidance in its Race Reporting Guide.
  • Support the work of bodies including the Runnymede Trust in their campaigning to protect and enhance the lives of asylum seeks and refugees which includes advocacy for the right to work whilst seeking asylum.
  • Ensure that the newly elected Race Relations Committee (RRC) of the TUC adopts this work as part of its twelve-month mandate.


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