E-Equality Newsletter No 6 – December 2006

* The New Union
* Amicus National Equality Conferences
* Amicus Equalities Strategy
* Disability Champions@Work
* Labour Party Equalities and Diversity Dinner
* In the Workplace
* Equality and Discrimination Law News
* Other News
* Events

Equalities central to the New Union
Plans for the membership vote on the merger between Amicus and T&G are now well advanced. With a current working title of the New Union there will be a ballot of members in January 2007 and the two unions will be formally merged by May. There will then be an 18 month transitional period during which the Union will run as two sections – Amicus and T&G, after which it will operate as the one New Union. The equalities agenda will be at the heart and forms part of the agreed principles of the New Union. It will include equality structures with designated equality seats on the joint executive council, equalities conferences and committees. The proposed rules include a commitment to have elected equalities representatives recognised and active in the workplace who will participate in the work of the union’s industrial structures. Also, there will be separate structures for women, BME, disabled and LGBT members. Derek Simpson, General Secretary commenting on the merger said “with the merger of Amicus and the TGWU, two great unions with strong and proud traditions, will be coming together to form the largest general union the UK has ever known – 2 million members in industries as varied as agriculture, textiles, finance and health. And its aims are clear – to use that strength to improve working conditions and wages, promote equality, campaign for political change and to campaign for international solidarity through affiliation with the TUC and the Labour party.” Siobhan Endean, Amicus Head of Equality said, ” Bringing the T&G and Amicus together in a merger is crucial to ensuring we have a strong equality agenda in the new union, everyone with an interest in delivering equality at work should vote yes in the ballot in the New Year.”

Download your promotional material for the merger from the Amicus website www.amicustheunion.org

Amicus National Equality Conferences
Amicus National Equality Conferences – over 200 delegates come together in Blackpool

Amicus held its National Women and Equality Conferences in Blackpool on the 2 and 3 November. Over the two days over 200 Amicus delegates to the National Women’s, BME, Disability, LGBT and Young members Conferences debated key equality issues and attended workshops on Equality Representatives, Organising and Campaigning against the BNP.

Derek Simpson, General Secretary, Amicus, addressed the Conferences, stating that equality would continue to be a priority issue in the new union that will come together with the proposed merger with the T&G. He emphasised that Amicus representatives and shop stewards had much to do in both negotiating and promoting equality and that it was vital that they did so to improve people’s working lives.

Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Minister for Women, spoke to a packed hall of Amicus women delegates at the Women’s Conference. She outlined the Government’s work on equality since 1997, pointing to the new discrimination and family friendly legislation that had been introduced by the Labour Government. She commended both Amicus’s Equal Pay Campaign and Disability Champions @ Work Project for the influence they are having on Government policy, on bringing about change for employees in the workplace and ensuring that equality issues have a prominent place in the trade union movement.

Angela Eagle, MP for Wallasey, addressed the delegates to the National Equality Conferences on 3 November. She stressed the importance of a single, comprehensive Equality Act and fully supported Amicus’s campaign for compulsory equal pay audits to be contained within a new Act, along with the right for trade unions to take group actions on behalf of members. It was clear to her that the current complicated raft of discrimination law was not delivering equality in this country and needed to be strengthened in the implementation of a Single Equality Act. Along with Amicus, she would be pushing the Government to ensure that there is no watering down of discrimination law and that we actually have a Single Equality Act which would achieve equal pay for women, BME and disabled workers and would eliminate all forms of discrimination in the workplace.

Motions passed at Conference, which varied from equal pay and work-life balance, to combating the BNP, access for disabled people and rights for LGBT people, will now be taken forward as part of the agenda of the National Equality Committees.

Siobhan Endean, Head of Equalities, stated “many Amicus members don’t realise that the Equalities Sector is the biggest sector in Amicus covering women, disabled, BME, LGBT and young members. There were so many dedicated Amicus reps in Blackpool who are campaigning and negotiating on equality at work. These are the people, who with the support of Amicus members, can really make a difference and ensure that there is equality of both opportunity, access and outcome for all our members”.

Amicus Equalities Strategy
The Amicus Equalities Strategy Document was launched at the Women’s and Equality Conferences and we are currently consulting on how this strategy should be implemented. We would like to hear from you with your views which you can do by answering the questions at the end of the document and returning the form as indicated. Follow the link to access the document – http://www.amicustheunion.org/Default.aspx?page=4746 . You can also obtain a hard copy from Bridget Clemson – contact bridget.clemson@amicustheunion.org or telephone 020 7420 8923.

STOP THE BNP – deliver Hope not Hate
STOP THE BNP was set up to counter racism and fascism in elections and beyond . Next year, as part of the continuing campaign, Amicus and other trade unions will be working with Searchlight, local political parties and community groups to show our opposition to the BNP.

Between 24 March and 8 April there will be a series of activities throughout the country to demonstrate clearly that Hope can triumph over Hate. There will be Days of Action in every local authority where the BNP poses a serious risk, when tens of thousands of leaflets or newspapers are delivered, community fun days, advice centres and even concerts.

It is going to be a people’s fortnight.

Searchlight is currently in discussions with political parties, trade unions, community organisations and local anti-fascist groups throughout the country and specific details of the activities will be announced shortly.

In the meantime, if you want to add your support to the Anti-Fascist Fortnight, be put in touch with your local group or simply be kept informed of future events then please fill in the form available at http://www.stopthebnp.com/ quoting the Amicus e-equality newsletter.
The campaign is looking for local political parties, trade union branches and community groups to sponsor the fortnight.
The 2007 Anti-Fascist Fortnight will be the biggest show of community opposition to the BNP to date. Please give your support and get involved.

The number of Disability Champions hits 400
Amicus now has over 400 trained Disability Champions both in Amicus and other trade unions, with over 100 recruited this year. But we are not stopping there and following on from hitting this number, Dave Parr, the Amicus Project Co-ordinator was straight over to Northern Ireland to promote the project further with the Northern Ireland Committee of Trade Unions who were hosting a seminar on “Training and Employment for People with Learning Needs” in Belfast.

Dave Parr commented “I was delighted to be promoting Disability Champions in Northern Ireland as this is an area where we need to expand our network of Champions. This seminar was an excellent place to do this and I was particularly impressed by Professor Roy McConkey’s contribution on “Making Inclusive Employment a Reality”. He summed this up by quoting Henry Viscardi, who was a leading advocate for disabled people in America , who said:-

“ Most of us are ordinary people with extraordinary desires; disabled people are extraordinary people with ordinary desires”

I cannot over-emphasise the need to ensure that those disabled people who wish to work are able to do so. It is something that the majority people take for granted and often complain about, but because of poor access and discrimination, it is something that many disabled people are denied”.

Amicus sponsors Labour Party Equality and Diversity Dinner

The Labour Party held its annual Equality and Diversity Dinner at the end of October whose sponsors included Amicus. A delegation of Amicus Representatives and Officers attended the dinner which was hosted by Meg Munn Minister for Women.

As part of Amicus’s Equality Strategy, Amicus lobbies the Government to ensure that the Labour Party and Government deliver on equalities. The dinner was a chance to celebrate the work that has been done and our sponsorship demonstrates Amicus’s commitment to the equalities agenda.

Mike Griffiths, Amicus National Political Officer said “The Labour party’s equalities and diversity dinner was a public demonstrate the Amicus political as well as industrial commitment to delivering on equalities. There have been a number of improvements in legal rights in this area but Amicus is continuing to campaign politically to deliver the union’s agenda on equalities.”
In the Workplace
Work-Life Balance Campaign – Community and Non Profit Sector

The Community and Non Profit Sector of Amicus is running a campaign across all organisations to promote the opportunities for staff to achieve a better work-life balance. We know from work carried out in the sector that the long hours’ culture is prevalent across so many organisations, as employees are so dedicated to the campaigns and services they work on. Many employees in the sector have not been aware of their rights to request flexible working, and almost all would like a better work-life balance to spend a little more time on something for themselves or their family. The campaign looks at taking a pro-active approach to this agenda, and therefore promotes all the options available to enable the employee to work as flexibly as possible.

Rachael Maskell, National Officer, “In the Third Sector, many people feel compelled to work excessive hours to meet service demands, often on a voluntary basis. Better funding in the sector would not put employees under such pressures as to meet their moral commitments over and above that of the work. Amicus believes that better awareness among members and management of the positive impact that a flexible work-life balance can achieve would benefit all working in the sector”

We have our next seminar on 14 February 2007 in London . If you are a member working in the Community and Non Profit Sector and would like to attend contact Maureen.German@amicustheunion.org or ring 0207 420 8978.

Amicus success on childcare vouchers in NAG

Amicus has negotiated the introduction of childcare vouchers in NAG. The vouchers can be used to pay for childcare up to age 15 and covers nurseries, nannies, after school clubs and registered childminders. Mary Alexander, Amicus Officer said “We have been pressing the company for some time to introduce these vouchers and I’m delighted that they are now being introduced. They will provide much needed assistance in childcare for many of our members in the company”.

Finance Sector Equal Pay Charter – Barclays and Lloyds TSB sign up

Barclays and Lloyds TSB are the latest finance sector companies to sign up to the Finance Sector’s Equal Pay Charter. David Fleming, Amicus National Officer for the Finance Sector commented “six companies have now signed up to the Charter and we are also in discussion with a number of companies who are expected to sign up shortly. I am delighted with the success of the campaign so far – we can now expect to see some action to close the 41% gender pay gap in the sector”.

You can obtain a copy of the Charter by following the link http://www.amicustheunion.org/Default.aspx?page=552

Equality and Discrimination Law News
The Disability Equality Duty – now in force

The new Disability Equality Duty (DED) came into force on 4 December. This is an important new duty aimed at promoting disability equality across the public sector. The DED, also referred to as the general duty, sets out what public authorities must have due regard to in order to promote equality of opportunity.

Most public authorities are also covered by specific duties, which set out a framework to assist authorities in meeting their general duty. All public authorities covered by the specific duties must:

publish a Disability Equality Scheme (including within it an Action Plan)
involve disabled people in producing the Scheme and Action Plan
demonstrate they have taken actions in the Scheme and achieved appropriate outcomes
report on progress
review and revise the Scheme.
The DRC has produced guidance on the duty to give a brief introduction into what it is and what it means for public bodies and disabled people. This document contains information on key dates and details of the Disability Equality Scheme and on the Action Plan. Follow the link for more information http://www.drcgb.org/employers_and_service_provider/disability_equality_duty.aspx

The Age Discrimination Regulations
The pension provisions in the Age Discrimination Regulations came into force on 1 December 2006 . These amending regulations mean that a wider range of existing pension scheme rules can continue. They provide clarification of the existing schedule of exemptions and further specific exemptions to address concerns that were highlighted during DWP’s short informal consultation that was held during October.

Meanwhile a judicial review of the Age Discrimination Regulations brought by Heyday has resulted in the Court referring to the European Court of Justice the contention that the default retirement age of 65 in the UK Age Regulations is not compatible with the EU Equal Treatment Framework Directive. This means that that there will be no judgement on this matter for at least a year.

For the Amicus Negotiators’ Guide on Age Discrimination and other guides on equality issues follow the link – http://www.amicustheunion.org/Default.aspx?page=3983

“Carer” now defined in new Flexible Working Regulations

From 6 April 2006 carers will have the right to request flexible working as part of the measures being introduced in the Work and Families Act 2006. The definition of carer under the Regulations will be an employee who is or expects to be caring for an adult who:-

* Is married to, or the partner or civil partner of the employee; or
* Is a near relative of the employee; or
* Falls into neither category, but lives at the same address as the employee.

Near relatives will include parents, parents-in-law, adult children, adopted adult children, siblings including those that are in-laws, uncles, aunts, grandparents or step-relatives.

The Amicus Negotiators’ Guide on Work-Life Balance is in the process of being updated to include the new legislation coming into effect under the Work and Families Bill. Further information on the Flexible Working Regulations can be found at – http://www.dti.gov.uk/employment/workandfamilies/flexible-working/index.html

Amicus wins case on fixed term contracts and redundancy payments

Amicus was successful in the tribunal case D’Alessio V Arts Council England . Ms D’Alessio had been working on a number of fixed term contracts for the Arts Council for over four years. Her contract specified that on redundancy she would only be entitled to receive statutory redundancy payments. A restructuring exercise resulted in her being made redundant and she only received statutory redundancy pay. However, another colleague in her department on a permanent contract, doing exactly the same work at the same level, received enhanced redundancy terms.

Following an appeal, Amicus supported Ms D’Alessio’s employment tribunal claim where it was found that the exclusion of Ms D’Alessio from benefits enjoyed by the comparator was not objectively justified and unlawful under the Fixed Term Contract Regulations.

Other News
Gender pay gap not closing

There has been minimal change in the gender pay gap over the last year, with the average full-time hourly gap moving from 17.1% in 2005 to 17.2% in 2006. This means that the average woman working full-time will lose out on in the region £330,000 over the course of her working life. The change was due to a higher growth in the earnings of full-time men amongst the top earners. Amicus will keep up the pressure through its Equal Pay Campaign for both Government and employers to take action to close the gap.

Margaret Lawson wins Scottish TUC Women’s Conference Meritorious Award

Congratulations to Margaret Lawson who won the Scottish TUC Women’s Conference Meritorious Award which was presented to her at the Conference in November.

Margaret is currently an Amicus NEC Member and has been a Convenor and Shop Steward for nearly 20 years. She was one of the first women to become a shop steward in what was then a male dominated environment. She has campaigned tirelessly for women’s rights and was instrumental in Amicus sponsoring and supporting Scottish Women’s Football.

Gillian McKay, Scottish Regional Officer commented “the outstanding work, time and effort she has given to the trade union movement has been acknowledged with this award and we hope she will continue to be involved in Amicus for many more years to come”

Guidance on mental health issues at work issued

The DRC has published guidance on supporting members with mental health issues, in partnership with the TUC, Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health and Mindful Employer.

The guidance gives practical advice about the law, how to counter attitudes and stereotypes and identifies adjustments that can be made to eliminates barriers to employing people with mental health issues.

Follow the link for a copy of the guidance – http://www.drc.org.uk/employers_and_service_provider/employment

Margaret Prosser appointed Deputy Chair of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights

Margaret Prosser, former Deputy General Secretary of the T&G, has been appointed as Deputy Chair of the Commission for Equality and Human Rights. This follows on from the appointment of Trevor Phillips as Chair in September. Kay Carberry, Assistant General Secretary of the TUC has also been appointed as one of a panel of Commissioners for the Commission that will act as a central point of advice and guidance on all equality and human rights issues in Great Britain from Autumn 2007.

Government makes progress on child poverty in the UK , but there is still a long way to go

A report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on “Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion in the UK 2006” has revealed that although the Government has made progress, it has fallen short of its target of taking one million children out of poverty. Half the children in poverty are in families already doing paid work indicating that, although work can be a route out of poverty, it is not the only solution. Although the Government is to be commended, as 700,000 fewer children are now living in poverty than in 1998/99, the Government must take more action to address the issue of low pay to tackle the issue more effectively.

For the findings of the report which covers all indicators of poverty in the UK see – http://www.jrf.org.uk/knowledge/findings/socialpolicy/1979.asp

Gender Equality Work and Health

“Gender equality, work and health”, has been published by the World Health Organisation and gives an overview of the relationship between inequality and women workers’ health. It highlights some specific issues for women, including the types of job they do, as well as the requirement that most women have to reconcile the demands of work and family. The report says economic survival strategies for women and their families sometimes result in a great danger to women workers’ health.

The report is available at – http://www.who.int/occupational_health/publications/genderwork/en/index.html

Watch out for Amicus’s new negotiators’ guide on Women’s Well-Being at Work which will be published in the first part of next year.


Amicus London Regional Equality Committee Meetings

The following are being held early next year and are open to all members within the respective equality grouping in the London region to attend. If you would like to come along please contact Sarah Cook on sarah.cook@amicustheunion.org or telephone 0207 7804103:-

London Region Disability Committee Meeting, 16 January 2007 , 7pm , NUT, Hamilton House

London Region LGBT Committee Meeting, 23 January 2007 , 6.30pm , NUT, Hamilton House

London Black and Minority Ethnic Committee Meeting – date in February 2007 to be confirmed

Amicus Non Profit Sector – Work-Life Balance Seminar

The Amicus non profit sector is holding a work-life balance seminar on 14 February 2007 in London . The seminar will show you what work-life balance is really about and how it can be implemented where you work. There will be a lunch provided and the seminar will be free of charge. If you are a member working in the Community and Non Profit Sector and would like to attend contact Maureen.German@amicustheunion.org or ring 0207 420 8978.

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. Her e-mail address is bridget.clemson@amicustheunion.org

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. Contact Karen on karen.cole@amicustheunion.org

Siobhan, Bridget and Karen of the Amicus Equalities Team would like to wish all our readers

a happy Christmas and New Year.

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