E-Equality Newsletter – No 3 – June 2006

Amicus Sector Conferences – Equality takes central stage

New Equality Negotiators’ Guides

Amicus has launched four new equality negotiators’ guides at the Amicus sector conferences. The new guides cover:-

• Negotiating for equal opportunities policies
• Work-life balance
• Combating homophobia and achieving equality for LGBT Workers
• Combating racism and achieving race equality at work.

These guides support Amicus negotiators, shop stewards and representatives in negotiating collectively on equality issues in the workplace and are also an aid to ensuring that employers are complying with legislation in this area.

Siobhan Endean, Head of Equalities said “Amicus is committed to bringing about real change in workplace and this involves tackling equality issues such as discrimination and work-life balance. Equality needs to be central to collective bargaining and Amicus negotiators have a key role in ensuring better working lives for our members in this important area”.

The guides are available on the Equal Rights section of the Amicus website – http://www.amicustheunion.org/Default.aspx?page=39. If you would like to receive copies in the post please contact your Regional Officer or Office.

Further negotiating guides will follow on disability, age and women later this year which will complement the existing guides.

Women’s Charters launched at Amicus Finance and Electrical Engineering, Electronics and IT Sector Conferences

Two key sectors are launching Women’s Charters at their conferences in Scarborough.

Baroness Margaret Prosser, former deputy general secretary of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, is a key note speaker at the Finance Sector Conference and will be launching the Amicus finance sector’s Charter for Equality for Women Workers.

The finance sector has the largest gender pay gap of any sector at 41% and unless action is taken women will continue to suffer discrimination in both pay and opportunities. Following the Women and Work Commission Report, Amicus is calling on finance sector employers to sign up to the Charter for Equality for Women Workers and work in partnership to take action to close the pay gap.

Dave Fleming, National Officer for the Finance Sector said “equal pay is a key priority for the finance sector, especially in relation to the advancement of women, as the majority of pay gap is caused by the clustering of women in the lower graded jobs and occupations. We want employers to publically demonstrate their commitment to work jointly with Amicus by signing up to the Charter and close the pay gap”

The Amicus Electrical Engineering, Electronics and IT Sector is also focussing on women’s equality at their Conference with the launch of their Charter for Women. The Charter is calling on the sector to work in partnership with Amicus to attract more women to work in the sector and to take action to address the gender pay gap of 17%. At present less than 20% of women work in the sector which is dominated by men.

A recent survey of the industry by Intellect, the UK trade Body for the hi-tech industry, has revealed that 49% of women working in the industry believe that their pay package is not comparable to that of their male counterparts, with 62% indicating that their company does not have a transparent pay structure and 82% supporting that equal pay audits should be compulsory.

Peter Skyte, Amicus National Officer for the sector, said “The Electrical Engineering, Electronics and IT Sectors are not attractive to women with their poor image, long hours’ culture and unsatisfactory work-life balance. The UK cannot afford for this to continue in companies that are key to its future. We will work with employers where they are progressive and challenge employers where they are unwilling to change”.

Full details of both Charters are available on the Amicus website – http://www.amicustheunion.org/

Other news and events

Amicus Equalities Award

Amicus recently announced the launch of its Equalities Award to showcase the great work you do for fighting for fairness and equality at work.

The award is open to all workplace groups and branches and there is no need to wait to be nominated by someone else; just send us details of what your group has been doing on equality issues.

We want to hear about all your campaigns and projects on equality. All you need to do is send a short e-mail or letter with details of your project and how we can contact you.

Every entry will be featured on the website and the best and most interesting projects will be publicised in the Amicus the magazine.

A short-list will be drawn up the National Executive Committee and the overall winning team will be presented with gold Equalities Award badges at an event at this year’s Labour Party Conference in Manchester in September.

We know that great work is being done by you all on equality so get writing to EQaward@amicustheunion.org or Equal Opportunity Award, Amicus, 35 King Street, London, WC2 8JG.

More information on the award is available at the Amicus website – http://www.amicustheunion.org/.

Women Representatives Organising Works Course

This 5-day training programme for women workplace representatives develops skills as well as enabling women to share experiences and discuss the issues that impact on women at work.

The training is delivered in a relaxed and informal manner comprising of brief lectures, syndicate work, role-play, group activities and presentations.

Amicus wants to increase women’s participation in the union and would encourage women representatives to apply to attend the course. It will take place from 25 to 29 September at Amicus’s training college in Esher. For more details please contact the education department on 020 8462 7755 or e-mail education@amicustheunion.org.

New Dignity at Work Agreements in Print and Papermaking

Amicus has secured a new Dignity at Work Agreement with the main print employers federation the BPIF as part of a new National Agreement – “Partnership at Work”.

The detailed agreement contains a wide range of equalities and dignity at work issues including equal opportunities, gender, disability, race and religious harassment, bullying at work and procedures for dealing with unacceptable behaviour at work. It also goes beyond statutory rights providing paid time off for Cancer screening and paid bereavement leave.

Discussions are also underway with the main papermaking employers’ organisation, the CPI, on a similar agreement, based on the modernisation of the national pay and conditions agreement for the industry.

Amicus Assistant General Secretary Tony Burke said “the new agreement on Dignity at Work with BPIF is very important for members working in print. It is a big step forward and means that employers are at long last taking these issues seriously. The discussions with the CPI have also gone well. It proves that winning equalities in the workplace is vitally important to our members.

A copy of the Amicus/BPIF Partnership at Work Agreement is available on http://www.amicustheunion.org/Default.aspx?page=1755

Amicus welcomes TUC support for Remploy factories

Amicus has welcomed the support of the TUC Disability Committee for the Remploy consortium of Trade Unions in their campaign to keep Remploy factories open.

Amicus has members employed in Remploy’s manufacturing, electronics, printing, specialist bookbinding and box making plants.

The consortium of trade unions has produced a detailed business plan based on bringing good quality work into Remploy factories through pubic procurement and other business streams.

Tony Burke, Assistant General Secretary said “many of our members working in Remploy are in need of our support. It is good to see the TUC supporting our campaign. We are arguing that there should be a review of the way that Remploy is operated to make Remploy factories more cost effective for the employment of disabled people. Any changes must not result in the closure of factories which will result in our members facing redundancy. Many will find it difficult to find other jobs because of employer discrimination resulting in unemployment and a life surviving on benefits. We must not allow this to happen”.

Age Discrimination Regulations

The DTI has produced guidance on the Age Discrimination Regulations which will come into force on October 2006. Follow the link to gain access to the Fact Sheets. http://tinyurl.com/n39ff

Amicus negotiators’ guidelines on age will be published in the near future which will be an aid to representatives and shop stewards on promoting equality in relation to age and ensuring that your employer is complying with the regulations.

Amicus has received a number of enquiries from negotiators in relation to the impact of the age discrimination regulations on benefits, redundancy schemes and retirement age at work. The regulations differ from other discrimination legislation in that there is scope for the justification of direct age discrimination. This means that a benefit that would appear to be discriminatory on the grounds of age may be justifiable. If an employer is attempting to downgrade any benefits, redundancy schemes or make changes to retirement ages as a result of the age discrimination regulations please contact your Amicus Officer for legal advice.

Court of Appeal overturns EAT’s decision in BNP Racial Discrimination Case

Amicus has welcomed the overturning by the Court of Appeal on the EAT’s decision in Redfern v Serco.

Serco dismissed Mr Redfearn, a local BNP councillor, following complaints by the union that its members objected to working with him. Mr Redfearn then brought a racial discrimination claim in which he was successful at the EAT.

Overturning this decision, the Court of Appeal held that the complaint did not fall within the scope of the Race Relations Act. It had been wrong to say that he had been dismissed on racial grounds, simply because race issues had been in the employer’s mind when deciding to dismiss, and that the decision could be said to be referable to race.

The Court of Appeal held that if this claim of direct discrimination was allowed to succeed it “would produce consequences at odds with the legislative aim” and “turn the policy of race relations upside down”.

Disability Rights Commission – “The Appointment”

The DRC has produced a 10 minute comedy drama which explores how attitudes to disability and long-term health conditions can affect people’s chances of getting and keeping a job.

The film is available free from the DRC with the following access options:

• audio description
• subtitles
• BSL interpretation
• BSL interpretation and subtitles

The film can by used in a training situation or for general viewing.

Contact the DRC at www.drc-gb.org/theappointment or telephone the helpline on 08457 622 633 – textphone 08457 622 644, to obtain a copy.

If you would like receive the e-equality Newsletter on a regular basis please contact Karen Cole with your e-mail address on karen.cole@amicustheunion.org to be added to our contact list. Please feel free to circulate this bulletin to other Amicus representatives, shop stewards and members.

Karen would also be pleased to contacted about any best practice in your organisation in relation to equality issues.

Leave a Reply