E-Equality Newsletter No 5 – October 2006

Amicus National Equality Conferences
Save The Remploy Factories – No Factory Closures
Amicus Good Work Campaign
Action in the Workplace
TUC 2006
Equality and Discrimination Law News
Other News

Amicus National Equality Conferences
Amicus is holding its National Women and Equality Conferences in Blackpool on the 2 and 3 November. Over the two days delegates to the National Women’s, BME, Disability, LGBT and Young members conferences will be debating key equality issues. Delegates will also be attending workshops on Equality Representatives, Organising and Campaigning against the BNP. Guests include, Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Minister for Women who will be speaking at the Women’s Conference on 2 November. Angela Eagle, MP for Wallasey will be addressing the delegates to the other National Equality Conference on 3 November. Look out for a report of the Conferences in the next edition of the Newsletter.

Save The Remploy Factories – No Factory Closures
Disabled workers must have the right to work in fully integrated employment without discrimination, but they must also have the choice to work in a supported environment if that is the best option for them. The overwhelming majority of our 5,000 disabled members in the 83 Remploy factories right across England , Scotland and Wales , believe it is, but the future of every one of those factories is now at risk. Remploy, wholly owned by the Government, provides disabled workers with opportunities to work with support and with dignity, learning first class skills, manufacturing goods of the highest quality and earning trade union negotiated pay and conditions, including a final salary pension scheme and excellent sickness benefits. This is now under threat, thanks to a Board of Directors who have mismanaged the company for years, failed to take advantage of massive opportunities to develop the business and betrayed our members and future generations of disabled workers in the process. The Government, under Anne McGuire, ordered a review of Remploy, but despite millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money being wasted on a report by PricewaterhouseCooper, has instead ordered the Company to negotiate with us to develop a plan to take Remploy forward over the next five years with a much smaller subsidy and a remit to significantly increase the numbers of disabled people in employment by the end of that time. Both Anne McGuire and the Board of Directors seem to believe that the work done by the Interwork part of Remploy – the arm of the business that works to place disabled workers in mainstream employment – is the only way to achieve this, and the company’s own proposals to the PWC review team included shutting up to 64 of the 83 factories, with the remaining 19 to close if they proved themselves to be unviable. The joint trade unions in Remploy have produced an alternative business plan that shows by restructuring the company and taking advantage of Public Procurement opportunities in particular, the business can expand, far more job opportunities can be created, and costs can be cut. But we are fighting to be heard and need all the support we can get from fellow trade unionists, MPs, community organisations and disabled people and their families everywhere. You can support disabled Remploy workers in struggle; join the demonstrations, write to your MP; write to Anne McGuire; sign the petitions, make a donation to the Remploy Fighting Fund.

If you want to help or need further info, contact Phil Davies , ring 07702 206436, or visit the joint Remploy union website at www.gmbremploy.unionweb.co.uk Join us in our fight to sack the Board, and save the Remploy Factories.


Amicus Good Work Campaign
In May 2006 Amicus launched its “Good Work” campaign and published an Agenda for Better Jobs. The campaign highlights the need to consider the quality of the work experienced by those in employment and argued that “good work” needs to be at the centre of policy and negotiating agendas. The Amicus Agenda for Better Jobs identified five key elements that need to be considered in the pursuit of improving the quality of people’s lives. They are:

  • A safe and healthy workplace
  • Control over the working environment
  • Secure and interesting work (including support for skills and learning)
  • Fairness and dignity at work
  • A trade union voice

As part of the campaign Amicus conducted an on-line survey asking people how their jobs matched up against these criteria. One of the areas which respondents said their workplaces fell short on was being treated with fairness and dignity. However, what was positive was that where there was a trade union voice in their workplace 63% said that they were being treated with fairness and dignity, compared with 44% of those without a trade union, which is a significant difference. It is evidence that trade unions are making a difference in this key area at work.

Action in the Workplace
Disability Champions@Work – a growing success
Amicus now has over 300 trained Disability Champions both in Amicus and other trade unions, with over 100 recruited this year. It has been a great year so far with courses been held all over the country training new Champions. We must now keep up the momentum as these Champions are so important to disabled employees and are making a real difference in the workplace. If you are interested in becoming a Disability Champion, information is on the Disability Champions website – www.disabilitychampions.com or you can telephone Dave Parr, Amicus’s Disability Champions@Work Project Worker on 01482 382512. Amicus is publishing a Negotiator’s Guide to Disability Discrimination which gives advice on negotiating on the issue and information, amongst other things, on the Disability Discrimination Act. The Negotiator’s Guide is available on the Equal Rights Website http://www.amicustheunion.org/pdf/Negotiators Guidelines on Disabilty.pdf or contact your Amicus Regional Officer or Office for a hard copy
Finance Sector Equal Pay Charter – more companies sign up
Following on from AXA, HBOS, Royal and Sun Alliance and First Direct have all now signed up the Finance’s Sector Equal Pay Charter. Amicus representatives and HBOS have gone three steps further by expanding their Charter beyond women to include age, disability and ethnicity. Discussions are taking place with other companies in the Finance Sector and it is expected that other companies are going to follow shortly and agree to work with Amicus to close the gender pay gap. You can obtain a copy of the Charter by following the link http://www.amicustheunion.org/Default.aspx?page=552

Equality Group Set up in Knowsley PCT
Knowsley PCT has set up an Equality and Diversity Group, the membership of which includes managers, Amicus Representatives and staff. They began by addressing the issue of bullying and harassment and the need for people to be able to approach people who really listened to their concerns. This has resulted in the introduction of “Listeners” who are trained to advise in this area.

Childcare in Royal Bank of Scotland

Amicus representatives have been campaigning for the introduction of an on-site nursery at Goodmans Field, London . They have surveyed Amicus members to find out how they deal with their childcare and how they think the Bank could help. Over 100 members with children under 16 were interviewed. The majority required childcare whilst they were at work, with only 13% having backup care if their regular care was unavailable. The majority had taken time off in the last year because of childcare requirements. Yet the majority had taken annual leave with only 11% given special leave to deal with childcare emergencies. There was a strong view that the Bank could give more assistance with childcare. Emergency provision, when regular childcare was unavailable, along with an on-site nursery, were the two things that would be most welcomed by employees, but there was also concern that the Bank was not understanding when it came to the difficulties that may arise from time-to-time if you were a parent. Amicus representatives have asked the Bank to publicise that parents are entitled to emergency leave and have publicised the survey in their Newsletter. They are also campaigning for the Bank to have a provision for emergency childcare.

TUC 2006

Amicus was fully involved in the TUC equalities debate in the TUC Conference in September. Amongst our speakers was Lindsey Adams, a finance sector representative from Barclays and Amicus National Women’s Committee member, who spoke on the importance of Amicus’s involvement in campaigning against domestic violence and that it is vital that policies are negotiated in organisations to help with this issue. Lorene Fabian, another Amicus National Women’s Committee member, stressed that we must continue to campaign against islamaphobia. We were also very proud to be supporting Thabhita Khumalo, a leading Zimbabwean trade unionist, who spoke at the Conference. She singled out Amicus as being key in her “Dignity Period” campaign in this country which highlights shortages and the prohibitive cost of female sanitary wear in Zimbabwe and has been raising money to buy sanitary ware to send to the country. Besides the campaign she spoke of the absolute poverty faced by Zimbabweans which she attributed to Robert Mugabe. Siobhan Endean commented “Thabita is one of the most inspiring and brave woman I have ever met. Her campaign is now resulting in sanitary wear reaching Zimbabwean women and she is doing much to raise awareness of the poverty in the country. She does all this knowing that prison is likely on her return and that her very life is in danger”. Thabitha Khumalo has also been awarded a “Women of the Year Award”, for the work she has done with Action for Southern Africa on the Dignity! Period Campaign, that so far as seen 2.5 million sanitary pads distributed to the most vulnerable women of Zimbabwe. For details of the awards visit http://www.woyla.co.uk/awards.htm. If you would like to help out with the “Dignity Period” campaign information is available following the attached link http://www.amicustheunion.org/default.aspx?page=3447 or contact your Amicus Regional Officer or Office.

Equality and Discrimination Law News
The Work and Families Act 2006 – improvements in the maternity and flexible working legislation

A reminder to you all about the Work and Families Act . The following will apply from 1 April 2007 and for all working women whose babies are due on or after the 1 April. 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 have the opportunity 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. Extends the right to request flexible working arrangements to employees caring for sick or disabled adult dependents from April 2007.

The Age Discrimination Regulations

The Age Discrimination Regulations came into force on 1 October 2006 and it is now unlawful for employers to discriminate against someone at work on the basis of their age, unless it can be objectively justified. However, the pensions’ provisions of the regulations have not come into force and have been deferred until 1 December 2006 because of the complexity of the regulations in relation to pensions. The Government is currently consulting on this issue and is expected to publish the regulations in November. Amicus has published a Negotiator’s Guide on Age Discrimination which gives information and advice on negotiating on age and on the legislation itself. A copy is available at the Amicus Equal Rights website –http://www.amicustheunion.org/pdf/Age Discrimination Negotiators Guide.pdf or you can contact your Amicus Regional Officer or Office for a copy.

LGB Goods and Services Delay
Amicus is disappointed that the Government has not implemented the new regulations to outlaw discrimination in the provision of goods and services on the grounds of sexual orientation. It was expected that these regulations would come into force on 1 October 2006 , but this has been delayed to April 2007. There is no news as yet when the text of the regulations will be laid before parliament, but Amicus will be keeping up the pressure to ensure that there is no further delay.

EOC website

We would remind representatives that the EOC website provides a good source of information on discrimination law issues. The link is attached where you will find information on equal pay and sex discrimination legislation, include the codes of practice, together with guidance on best practice. www.eoc.org.uk

EOC response to equal pay ruling

The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has issued a statement on the European Court of Justice decision on the equal pay case of Bernadette Cadman regarding length of service. The EOC intervened in the case, providing evidence on how length of service related pay systems can indirectly discriminate against women. [Click here for link]

DRC guidance on the Disability Equality Duty
The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) website has a section containing guidance and information to support public authorities, disabled people and disabled people’s organisations in the successful implementation of the new duty. DRC has also published an Impact Report for 2005-2006, with information about its work including in the areas of education, employment health, independent living, transport and services.

[Click here for link to Equality Duty guidance]
[Click here for link to Impact Report]

Other News
DCLG Discussion Forum
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which is responsible for many areas of equality, has created a discussion forum on its website. Its purpose is to allow everyone with an interest in DCLG’s work to contribute their views on current policy and emerging issues. The forum has a changing menu of discussion topics. One of the current topics for discussion is ‘Sites for Gypsies and Travellers’. All comments posted on the site will be read by DCLG policy officials, who will also take part in each debate. This is a pilot project which is being evaluated by the independent Hansard Society.

[Click here for link to discussion forum]

It’s no joke. Women are woefully under-represented in positions of power which means that women are not taking the decisions that affect their daily lives. At the current rate it will take 400 years to get equal numbers of women and men in Parliament. And the lack of power enjoyed by women in public life is mirrored by a lack of control in women’s private lives. Domestic violence results in the deaths of two women a week and abortion rights are now being challenged as never before. Why should we wait 400 years? Women should be making the decisions that affect their daily lives now! Tell me about the difference http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/index.asp?PageID=36 that my support will make.

Action Plan: ‘From the Playground to the Boardroom’
A Government Action Plan to tackle women’s achievement in the workplace and transform the culture in Britain ‘From the Playground to the Boardroom’ was launched by Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly on 11th September. The plan includes measures to address the recommendations of the Women and Work Commission it its report ‘Shaping a Fairer Future’.

[click here for link]

Government action plan to look at ethnic minority women’s issues
Ruth Kelly, the Mister for Women and Communities Ruth Kelly has announced that the next stage of the Government’s action plan in response to the Women and Work Commission report will focus on economic exclusion and ethnic minority women.

[click here for link]


Polly Toynbee to address pro-choice public meeting

22nd November, 7pm — 9pm
Room 10 House of Commons
Organised by Abortion Rights campaign

[Click for more information]

This public meeting, on the eve of the Private Members Ballot, is an opportunity for supporters of a woman’s right to choose to make clear to MPs that any attempt to use a Private Members Bill to attack women’s rights will be met with widespread opposition. The meeting will be addressed by Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee and MPs from each of the three main parties, amongst others. All pro-choice supporters welcome. Places are limited, and previous events have been standing room only, so please email info@abortionrights.org.uk if you are planning to attend.

The STUC is once again proud to be organising the Annual St Andrew’s Day Anti Racism Event on Saturday 25 November 2006. This year, the Anti Racism and Fascism March will assemble at 10.30 am at Blythswood Square, Glasgow , marching off at 11am through the streets of Glasgow to the ABC concert hall, Sauchiehall Street, at which there will be a festival event, starting at 12 noon and concluding at approximately 3.30 pm. The event in the ABC will have a range of activities that are attractive to all people, including:

  • Food and hot snacks to purchase
  • Soft drinks, hot drinks and beverages available from a licensed bar area
  • Music
  • Solidarity stalls and commercial exhibitors
  • Children’s games and activities
  • Art displays

As ever, it is vital that this year’s event attracts a large turnout, to tackle racist and fascist views, to give a clear demonstration that Scotland stands together against racism, and to celebrate equality and diversity in Scotland.

East Midlands Equalities Training Day
The Amicus East Midlands Region is holding Representatives Equalities Training Day at Quorn Grange on 15 November. This includes training on discrimination law and the public sector duties. If you are a representative in the East Midlands Region and interested in attending, please contact the Amicus Regional Office on 01332 346 617.

Eastern Region Women’s Training Day
The Amicus Eastern Region is holding a Women’s Training Day in the Needham Market office on 1 st December. This includes training on discrimination law and the new maternity leave and pay. If you are a representative in the Eastern Region and interested in attending, please contact the Amicus Regional Office on 01449 723387.

South West TUC workshop: Disabled Women at Work 18 November 2006
Disabled Women at Work is a South West TUC workshop on Saturday 18th November in Taunton . The aim of the day is to gather information and plan action on what the problems are at work, what would help and how do we do it for disabled women at work. The event will give women who don’t usually have a voice, an opportunity to get together and explore their common issues.

[click here for link]

Silencing the BNP
Are you an Amicus representative and Labour Party member who is interested in campaigning against the BNP? If so, get involved and attend Silencing the BNP on Saturday 11 November, at the TGWU Office in Birmingham. Speakers include Derek Simpson, General Secretary, Nick Lowles, Searchlight. and Ian Austin, MP. There will also be Workshops which will help you in the campaign. There is a £50 registration fee which the equalities unit cannot pay for you but if you would like a copy of the registration form please email bridget.clemson@amicustheunion.org

LGBT History Month Congress House launch
In 2007, LGBT History Month, which is entering its third year, will enjoy full scale TUC backing. In 2006, the TUC was pleased to be included among the supporters of this important opportunity to boost the profile for LGBT people everywhere. For the coming year, more concrete steps have been taken. The HM 2007 will be launched at a major event to be held in Congress House on 20 November, 5-8pm. General Secretary Brendan Barber will welcome guests and a diverse range of speakers and entertainers (including renowned US lesbian comedy act Lea Delaria) is being invited to give the 2007 Month the best possible start. Anyone wishing to attend the launch needs to join the guest list at launch@lgbthistorymonth.org.uk.
One-day Conference, supported by The Andrea Adams Trust Thursday 14 December 2006 Edinburgh

This conference will examine these issues and others relating to bullying in the workplace.

  • How can workplace bullying be tackled?
  • Are there any tried and tested HR strategies to eradicate workplace bullying?
  • What are the effects of workplace bullying on individuals and organisations?
  • What is the government doing to address workplace bullying?
  • What are trade unions doing to address workplace bullying?

Delegates will have the opportunity to hear and discuss these issues with specialists from a variety of backgrounds, including: http://www.parliament.uk/lords/index.cfm

Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen, on the Dignity at Work Bill http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/ld200102/ldbills/031/2002031.htm


Mandy Telford, Anti-bullying Coordinator http://www.andreaadamstrust.org/index.htm

Matt Witheridge, Operations Director http://www.dignityatwork.org/

Angela Ishmael, Project Director, joint Anti-bullying project

For further information about this event and to book a place, please visit our website at http://www.holyrood.com, email workplacebullying@holyroodcom, or call 0131 272 2130.

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

Karen Cole, Amicus Research Officer Equalities, 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.

Leave a Reply