Satnam Singh Ner

Bringing diversity into the workplace

Satnam was the only employee from a black or minority ethnic background on the Rosyth site when he joined Babcocks 31 years ago. The story is now very different.

Equality and diversity have always been Satnam’s passion: he came to the UK from India in the 60s when he was four years old and saw an increase in racism with the rise of the National Front.

“I saw the trade union movement as the best vehicle for promoting equality and diversity; it’s democratically based and accountable, and they do a lot of anti racism work. It was a natural step for me to take an active role at Prospect,” explains Satnam.

Satnam works for the marine division of Babcock International in Rosyth, Scotland, which traditionally employed mainly white British males.

He worked with the employer to encourage them to recruit staff from minority ethnic backgrounds.

With a growing number of union members from diverse communities, Satnam introduced a new learning programme to increase the diversity of reps. Speaking to ethnic minority members, Satnam realised they needed specific employability skills, such as confidence building and self-esteem, to integrate and progress in the workplace. He applied for funding, and then worked with training providers to run a series of courses.

“On the back of this, members said they wanted to become reps as they could see the benefits of being part of the union,” says Satnam. We now have reps from Romania, Spain, Nigeria, Poland, India and Nepal.”