E-Equality Newsletter No 4 – July 2006

Amicus equality e-mail networks
Stop Remploy Closures
Action in the Workplace
Amicus Equalities Award
Amicus campaigns for a Single Equality Act
Equality and Discrimination Law News
Special Report on the TUC Women’s Conference
Other News

Amicus equality e-mail networks

Amicus is setting up e-mail networks so that members can receive regular e-mail updates on equality issues. There are five networks consisting of Black and Minority Ethnic, Disabled, LGBT, Women and Young members. You can sign up for as many of these networks as you wish. Don’t miss out on being part of these networks which are going to play an important role in sharing information on equality in Amicus.

Sign up now. You can register at: www.amicustheunion.org/Default.aspx?page=4217 All your details will be maintained on a confidential basis by the Equality Department Administrator and will not be released to others, either within or outside of Amicus.

Stop Remploy Closures

The Government is currently undertaking a review of Remploy and there is a real fear that this may lead to the closure or rationalisation of Remploy companies in the UK . Remploy provides employment for disabled workers who will find it difficult to find another job because of the discrimination they will face from employers. Amicus does not want to see this vulnerable group of workers, which include many of our members, losing their jobs and being forced into a life on benefits.

Amicus is working with other unions in the Remploy Consortium of Trade Unions to stop closures of Remploy sites. The NEC has made a grant to the fighting fund, but we are also circulating a petition.

Please sign the petition (link below) and get as many people as you can to sign as well. It should be returned as soon as possible to Tony Newberry, Amicus, GPM Sector, London Region, 33-37 Moreland Street , London , WC1V 8HA.


Action in the Workplace

AXA signs up to the Amicus Charter for Women
AXA has become the first financial services company in the UK to sign up to the ‘Amicus Charter for Women’. AXA Group HR Director Steve Offord signed the charter on the 20th June, just days after its launch.

Amicus welcomed this as a very positive step by AXA and we will keep you posted on the action that AXA and Amicus are taking as a result of this charter.

You can view the Charter at: http://www.amicustheunion.org/default.aspx?page=552

Higher Education sectors sets up joint equality forum

In the Higher Education Sector the trade unions, Amicus, T&G, GMB and UCU have agreed with the Employers Association Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) to set up an equality forum to discuss and advance equality issues.

The forum will consist of trade union officers and senior personnel from UCEA working in the equality agenda. Initial work will focus on part-time and term-time staff, as well as the need to fully consider equality proofing and monitoring of the job evaluation processes in higher education. The forum will be able to input recommendations directly to the Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff.

PSN introduces enhanced maternity pay package

PSN, a newly formed company operating in the oil and gas industry has introduced an enhanced maternity pay package, with the support of Amicus.

All UK employees with at least 2 years’ continuous service at the qualifying week for statutory maternity pay, will receive 100% of their earnings for the first 6 weeks and 50% of earnings for the following 20 weeks’ leave. This represents a significant improvement on employee’s statutory rights to maternity pay.

Siobhan Endean, Amicus Head of Equalities said “Amicus welcomes this enhanced maternity package at PSN as having a baby is the most expensive time for working families, and better maternity pay during this period can make all the difference.”

Bob Keiller, PSN, CEO said “this improved maternity benefit package is another way of showing our commitment to our staff. Our people are our business. We will be introducing more employee benefits later this year to reward the flair, loyalty and hard work that ensures PSN’s success”.

Amicus Equalities Award – Have you apllied yet?

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 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 – www.amicustheunion.org .

Amicus campaigns for a Single Equality Act

Amicus is campaigning for a Single Equality Act that will provide a comprehensive legal framework with regards to discrimination at work and where organisations provide goods and services.

The Labour Party Conference in October will discuss contemporary resolutions and Amicus is promoting a suggested resolution on the Single Equality Act as a topic for debate. If you are a Labour party member, or know a Labour party member who may be able to propose the attached resolution within their constituency Labour party, then please contact them now as Constituency Labour Parties will be deciding on resolutions over the next few weeks.


If we are successful in ensuring that the resolution is tabled for debate, then the next challenge will be to ensure it is prioritised through the priority ballot for debate.

If you are a constituency delegate to Labour Party Conference and would be interested in supporting our campaign to prioritise this resolution then please get in touch with Siobhan Endean, Head of Equalities.

If you would like to join the Labour party so that you can get involved in political campaigning then please contact the Amicus political unit on 020 7420 8900 for an application form.

Equality and Discrimination Law News

The Work and Families Act 2006

The Work and Families Act has now received Royal Assent. It was introduced by the Government with the aim of improving work-life balance, enabling a better balance of caring responsibilities between partners and for parents to spend more time with their baby in the first year of life.

The Act:

Extends the period of maternity and adoption pay from 26 weeks to 39 weeks initially with a commitment to extend to 52 weeks. The pay period will be extended to 39 weeks in April 2007.
Will allow all women who are currently entitled to ordinary maternity leave to qualify for additional maternity leave which means that all women will be able to take twelve months leave for all babies born after April 2007. Notice of early return from maternity leave will be extended from 4 weeks to 8 weeks. Keeping in touch days will be introduced which allows women on maternity leave to work for certain number of days without losing their entitlement to statutory maternity pay. Creates a new right for fathers to take up to 26 weeks’ Additional Paternity Leave, if the mother has returned to work before her maternity leave has expired, in addition to the current 2 weeks paternity leave available to fathers. Enables the father to claim additional paternity leave pay at the statutory rate, where the mother’s entitlement to statutory maternity pay has not expired and she has returned to work. The date for the introduction of the new rights for fathers to take additional paternity leave and pay has not been confirmed by the Government. Extends the right to request flexible working arrangements to employees caring for sick or disabled adult dependents from April 2007.

Workplace harassment

An employer is liable for damages in the event of an employee harassing another employee at work if it amounts to a course of conduct prohibited under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. This Act was introduced after the stalking cases of celebrities in the 1990s.

The House of Lords judgment of Majrowski-v-Guy’s and St Thomas ‘ NHS Trust has held that harassed employees can claim damages from the employer for anxiety or financial loss caused by harassment. This is a major development in this area of law, as previously employees were limited to claims under employment anti-discrimination law or civil litigation by personal injury claims.

For the employer to be liable under the 1997 Act, the harassing employee must have committed the offence whilst acting in the course of employment:

• The definition of harassment under the Act requires more than one incident of harassment;

• Liability is strict and the employer is liable if an employee is harassing in an activity closely connected with the terms of their employment;

• There is no defence that the employer attempted to stop the activity or that the outcome of the injury was unpredictable or unexpected.

Dismissal for sickness not necessarily discrimination

The European Court of Justice has ruled that “sickness” is not a prohibited ground of discrimination in the Equal Treatment Framework Directive. If an employee falls ill they cannot necessarily claim disability discrimination if their employment is terminated because of their sickness. This contrasts with having a long term impairment which may fall within the disability discrimination legislation.

The information given in Equality and Discrimination Law News is for guidance. Specific advice should be sought for individual cases from an Amicus Officer.

Special Report on the TUC Women’s Conference

The TUC Equality Conferences are held every year between March and June, with the Women’s Conference held in March, the Black Workers’ in April, the Disability in May and ending with the LGBT Conference in June. This month we will report on the TUC Women’s Conference and will report on the other Conferences in later editions.

The TUC Women’s Conference was held in Eastbourne from 8 to 10 March 2006 to coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March and Amicus had a full delegation in attendance.

Amicus’s motion to the Conference on equal pay, moved by Agnes Tolmie, Amicus NEC and Women’s Committee member, highlighted the need for the introduction of compulsory equal pay audits which are central to closing the gender pay gap. We also supported a motion on the importance of the gender duty in the public sector and the need to ensure that it is extended to the private and not-for-profit sector. Siobhan Endean, Amicus Head of Equalities, emphasised that the gender pay gap would not be closed simply by concentrating on the public sector, particularly as the full-time gender pay gap in the private sector is nearly twice that of the public sector – 23% compared to 13%.

Amicus held two fringe events at the Conference. The first was held jointly with the T&G and GMB on Women and Work, The Way Ahead. The speakers, Baroness Margaret Prosser and Kay Carberry, TUC Assistant General Secretary reported on the recommendations of the Women and Work Commission Report.

We also sponsored a fringe meeting on abortion rights and defending a woman’s right to choose. Anne Quesney, Director of Abortion Rights, spoke on the national pro-choice campaign and the defence of the upper time limit.

More information on the work of Abortion Rights is available at www.abortionrights.org.uk .

Keynote speakers to the Conference included Tessa Jowell, the then Women’s Minister and Brendon Barber, TUC General Secretary. The Conference was particularly moved by the address to Conference of Nazanin T Ali, Head of the Women’s Kurdistan ‘s Workers’ Union and Violet E Essda Qallab, President of the Oil and Gas Union, Basrah. They were both in the UK as part of a delegation from Iraq which was funded by Amicus, the TUC and Unison. They gave grave accounts of the daily struggle faced by women, living with poverty, terrorism and violence. Their work to improve the living and working conditions for women in their country and their determination to do so in the face of opposition and danger, was an inspiration to the Women at the Conference.

Lorene Fabian, Amicus delegate and Women’s Committee member, was re-elected to the TUC Women’s Committee with the highest number of votes. Carol Kirk, Amicus delegate and the then Amicus Disability Committee Chair was also elected to the TUC Women’s Committee disability seat. Both will be representing Amicus on the Committee over the coming year.


The World in Princes Park Event takes place on 5 August at Princes Park in Liverpool between 1pm and ending at 7pm . The event includes a parade, local, national and international performers, workshops and stalls – all to celebrate Black History. It is a great family event at which Amicus has its own stand. If you live in the area we would encourage you to attend and visit the Amicus stall.

Forthcoming Pride Events

The following Pride events are being held over the next few weeks:-

29 July – Nottingham
30 July – Soho , London
30 July – 6 August – Brighton
6 August – Hull , Leeds
19 August – Bristol , Cambridge
19 August – UK Black Pride, Southend-On-Sea
18-28 August – Manchester
2 September – Cardiff

For further information visit www.pinkuk.com/events/pride2006Dates.asp

The Institute of Employment Rights , in association with the TUC, are holding a conference on protecting vulnerable workers: promoting equality at work on 4 October 2006 , 9.30am to 4.15pm at the NATFHE Centre, Britannia Street , London . The Conference will provide an update on employment and discrimination law in this area. If you would like to attend please contact Bridget Clemson.

Women Representatives Organising Works Course

This 5-day training programme for women workplace representatives develops skills as well as enabling women to share of 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. You will need to be quick as there are now limited places available on the Course.

Other News

The Government is recruiting disabled people to form an advisory group to advise them on a range of disability issues, in particular to assist them in keeping with their commitment to engage with disabled people as they pursue the objective of eliminating disability discrimination by 2025.

It is important to have trade union voices on this body so if you are interested in applying can you please contact Siobhan Endean, Head of Equalities or telephone 0207 4208907.

The first annual report of the Office for Disability Issues has just been published detailing the work being carried out by the Government to achieve equality for disabled people. It is available in a number of formats at the website of the ODI, www.officefordisability.gov.uk .

Do you think the Government is doing enough to tackle inequality between men and women? If not, you may be interested in supporting the Fawcett Society who have been campaigning for women’s rights since 1866. To continue their excellent work they are asking people to give a regular gift of as little as £3 per month. More details are available at www.fawcettsociety.org.uk .

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 or action in your organisation in relation to equality issues which can be included in the Newsletter.

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