E-Equality Newsletter No 9 – April 2007

  • The New Union
  • Public Sector Disability Equality Duty – Amicus survey
  • STOP THE BNP – deliver Hope not Hate
  • TUC Women’s Conference – special report
  • Equality and Discrimination Law News
  • Other News
  • Events and Training

The New Union
Amicus and T&G members have voted to merge to create Britain and Ireland ‘s newest and biggest trade union with around two million members.

In the ballot to approve the creation of the as yet unnamed new union, the T&G gave the go-ahead by 86.4% for merger and Amicus members voted 70.1% for merger.

Siobhan Endean, Amicus Head of Equalities commented “this is a great result indicating a clear majority support from our members for the New Union. Equalities will be at the heart of the New Union and as the biggest union in the country we will exert a huge influence on the equalities agenda, along with negotiating to improve the working conditions and wages for our members and campaigning for international solidarity”.

For more news about the merger see web site

Public Sector Disability Equality Duty-Amicus survey
The public sector disability equality duty came into force in December 2006 and all public bodies (except primary schools) should now have their Disability Equality Scheme in place (including within it an action plan).

It is important that trade unions are consulted and engaged in the implementation of the duty and Amicus is conducting a survey (in conjunction with the TUC) to find out what progress the public sector have made so far and the extent of Amicus involvement.

The survey is available here for completion by Amicus public sector representatives and should be returned to Karen Cole, Amicus Research Officer (Equalities) no later than 1 May 2007.

STOP THE BNP – deliver Hope not Hate
The BNP is standing a record 880 candidates in the May local elections. This is a massive increase over the 363 candidates in 2006 and the 221 who stood in 2004. In 1997, when Labour came into power, the BNP could only muster 53 candidates.

The district and borough council candidates can be found by clicking the relevant local authority area on our map.

Searchlight has produced a glossy hard hitting leaflet to counter the BNP. Click here to view the leaflet or to place an order.

Most of the BNP candidates will be paper candidates and will do little or no campaigning. However we will see a concerted effort in their target areas. To help us determine the threat posed by the BNP in each ward we need your help. It will be evident from the quality and quantity of BNP literature being distributed which wards they believe they could win, so please notify the campaign of any BNP activity, send copies of leaflets and let the campaign know of any particular local issues that might make a previous safe ward vulnerable to the BNP. Email about BNP activities.

Email Nick about particular wards you think are under threat and the campaign will see how they can help.

Over the next week Searchlight will announce a number of initiatives to help turn out the anti-BNP vote on election day. Whatever your circumstances, wherever you live, there will be something you can do to help.


Equalities Review finds persistent discrimination and disadvantage
The Equalities Review, which published its report “Fairness and Freedom” recently, found that persistent discrimination and disadvantage are faced by many groups of people in society. The report revealed that at the current rate it would take until 2085 to close the gender pay gap, until 2045 to close the education attainment gap for some BME children and, that if nothing changes, the employment penalty facing disabled people will never be eliminated.

The report recommends a ten-step plan to progress towards equality, including the use of pubic procurement and commissioning to promote equality, a broader positive equality duty for the public sector and new flexibility for employers to use positive action.

Although, Amicus welcomed the report, it could have gone much further in its recommendations. In particular it did not recommend the extension of the right to request in a flexible manner to all workers. If we are to transform workplaces then all employees should have the opportunity to work flexibly, rather than limiting the right to parents of young children and carers.

It is also vital that all employers should be required to carry out mandatory equal pay audits, that the duty to promote equality is extended beyond the public sector to the private and voluntary sectors and that the Commission for Equality and Human Rights is properly funded and uses its enforcement powers effectively.

Siobhan Endean, Head of Equalities commented “It is also crucial that the Single Equality Act is implemented as soon as possible and that it contains measures that will require all employers to take action to address inequality at work”. The report is available here.

Equal Rights for Agency Workers -bill blocked
Amicus was amongst the unions that recently supported the Private Members Bill introduced by Amicus member, Paul Farrelly, MP, that would have provided much needed protection and rights for over 1.4m agency workers in the UK. Despite the backing of more than 100, mainly Labour MPS, the bill was “talked out” and denied a vote in the House of Commons.

A joint statement from Amicus, T&G, GMB, CWU and Unison General Secretaries said that “Without the protection that only legislation can provide, workers will continue to be exploited by unscrupulous employers and this scourge on society will be allowed to continue. This is not the end of our campaign it can only be the beginning”.

The DTI are currently carrying out a consultation in relation to temporary agency workers and we would be interested in hearing from you with examples of the use and abuse of agency workers so that we can make a strong case that there is a need to introduce legislation to protect agency workers.

Please send any examples to Louise McMullan by the end of April.

TUC Women’s Conference – special report
The TUC Women’s Conference this year was held in Scarborough from 14 to 16 March and Amicus had a full delegation in attendance who took a full part in the debates ranging from promoting the gender equality duty to ending sweatshop labour.

Amicus’s motion to the Conference on the Single Equality Act, moved by Lorene Fabian, Chair of Amicus National Women’s Committee, highlighted the need for a comprehensive and strong Single Equality Act which amongst other things should include the introduction of compulsory equal pay audits for all employers, statutory rights for trade union equality representatives and a right for trade unions to take group actions.

We also seconded a motion on Human Trafficking and Migrant Domestic Workers. Siobhan Endean, Amicus Head of Equalities, emphasised that it is unacceptable that the Government’s is proposing to weaken the position of an already vulnerable and exploited group of workers under changes to immigration rules. The proposals will mean that migrant domestic workers are not going to be able to change employer. They are going to remove the most basic employment rights from migrant domestic workers, leaving them even more open to abuse and exploitation than they are already suffering at the hands of unscrupulous employers and as a result of human trafficking.

Amicus supported two fringe events at the Conference. The first was held jointly with the T&G on Migrant Domestic Workers. The speakers included Harriet Harman, MP, Minister for Justice at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, Barbara Roche, a former Minister for Women and MP and Lorene Fabian, Amicus. The second, was on supporting women in Latin America where speakers included Maxima Cumana, a Venezuelan MP and education trade union labour, Zelmys Dominguez, from the Cuban Embassy and Graham Goddard, Amicus Deputy General Secretary.

If you would like to find out more about the campaign to support Migrant Domestic Workers please refer to the Kaylaan website, which is a charity that is run specifically to support these vulnerable workers.

More details about our international campaigns can be found at the Amicus International Department webpage.

Congratulations are given to Lorene Fabian, Amicus, who was once again successfully re-elected to the TUC Women’s Committee.

Equality and Discrimination Law News
April sees new legislation coming into force which will improve the rights for people in this country in relation to equality. Firstly, there are improvements to maternity leave and pay and the introduction of the right for carers to request flexible working under the Work and Families Act. Secondly, the public sector gender duty comes into force and finally, the legislation on sexual orientation and religion is extended to goods and services. To find out more read on.

The Work and Families Act

The Work and Families Act introduces the following new rights at work in April:

  • Statutory maternity and adoption pay is extended from 26 weeks to 39 weeks for babies who are due on or after 1 April or where a child is placed for adoption on the same date.
  • All pregnant employees regardless of length of service will be entitled to up 52 weeks maternity leave, made up of 26 weeks ordinary maternity leave and 26 weeks additional maternity leave.
  • Women or adopters will be able to go into work for up to 10 mutually agreed Keeping in Touch Days during Maternity/Adoption Leave.
  • The regulations clarify that an employer is entitled to make reasonable contact with an employee during maternity and adoption leave.
  • The notice period is extended from 4 to 8 weeks for an employee to notify their employer of return to work earlier than previously agreed or notified under Maternity and Adoption Leave.
  • The right to request flexible working is extended to carers of adults.

The Amicus Negotiators’ Guide on Work-Life Balance has been up-dated to incorporate these changes and is available here.

The following DTI website also gives more detail of the Work and Families Act.

The Gender Equality Duty

The public sector gender equality duty came into force on 6 April and will require all public sector authorities to demonstrate that they are promoting equality for women and men and that they are eliminating sexual discrimination and harassment. They will also have to provide information and consult with unions.

There is a supporting Code of Practice which is the statutory guidance on the legal requirement of the duty and guidance which has been produced by the EOC which is available here.

Siobhan Endean, Amicus Head of Equalities said “Amicus welcomes the gender equality duty, but we are disappointed that the duty does not extend to the private, voluntary and not-for-profit sectors. These sectors have a wider gender pay gap than the public sector, and we need action to promote gender equality at work if we are to move closer to ending discrimination at work. Amicus will continue its campaign for the strengthening of the duty to cover all employers, support women to break the glass ceiling and provide flexible working for all employees”.

New Protection on sexual orientation and religion in the provision of goods and services

Following a House of Lords vote in support of protection for LGB people in the provision of goods and services in March, the new legislation will now come into force on 30 April.

Amicus is proud to the part that the trade union movement played in campaigning for this legislation to form part of the Equality Bill which has lasted more than two years. Amicus was adamant that LGB people are entitled to the same rights and treatment as everyone in this country and led the way in lobbying the Government not to bow to pressure of opponents.

Parallel protection against discrimination in the provision of goods and services on the grounds of people’s religion or belief will also be introduced at the same time.

Bank Holidays – part-time workers

The Court of Session had affirmed the EAT’s decision, holding that an employer who does not give a part-time employee pro rata days off work to reflect Monday bank holidays is not discriminating under the Part-Time Workers Regulations.

The claimant worked on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and his employer allowed people to have bank holidays off, but only if they actually worked on the bank holiday.

The Court of Session found that the employer would have treated a full-time worker who did not work on a Monday in the same way and the claimant’s appeal was dismissed.

McMenemy v Capita Business Services Ltd

ECJ upholds ASLEF’s case to expel BNP member

Although, Amicus welcomed the ECJ decision to uphold the right for ASLEF to expel one of its members who belonged to the BNP, Amicus General Secretary, Derek Simpson commented “the Employment Relations Act was changed in 2004 in an attempt to accommodate this problem, however, it does not go far enough. We are calling on the UK government to comply with the ruling by changing UK law to allow unions to expel members who are also members of a political party whose objectives conflict with trade unions, e.g. our commitment to combat racism and xenophobia”.

Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Fireman (ASLEF) V. The United Kingdom – European Court of Human Rights 11002/05

Other News
Child poverty up by 100,000

The number of children living in poverty rose by 100,000 last year to 2.8 million, with the figure rising to 3.8 million after housing costs are included This is the first rise in six years and it now seems unlikely that the Government will reach its target of halving the number of children in poverty by 2010.

Relative poverty has also risen for the first time under the present Labour Government with 12.7 million people living in poverty after household costs and 10 million before household costs.

Managing age: a guide to good employment practice

The TUC and CIPD have produced the guide, Managing age: A guide to good employment practice which is an aid to unions and employers on developing good practice to meet the requirement of the Age Discrimination Regulations which came into force in October 2006.

The guide can be downloaded here

National Age Referendum

The National Pensioners’ Convention is holding a Nationwide Age Referendum calling on the Government to take more action to help the many older people living in poverty.

If you would like to take part in this see – http://www.agereferendum.co.uk/

More than 100 Join Exemplar Employers Initiative

Following the recommendation of the Women and Work Commission Report more than 100 employers have now signed up to the Exemplar Employers Initiative which commits them to looking at innovative ways of tackling the gender pay gap.

To find out whether your employer has signed up see here

ACAS releases research results on the impact of the Sexual Orientation and Religion or Belief Regulations 2003

ACAS has released its research results on the impact of the Sexual Orientation and Religion or Belief Regulations 2003. Since both sets of regulations came into force findings show that workplace discrimination allegations regarding sexual orientation were dominated by claims of bullying and harassment, including name calling, threats and physical assaults. Equally, tribunal cases regarding religious discrimination included many instances of bullying or harassment as well. But another key issue were claims arising from difficulties over working hours, time off or leave to follow religious practices, promotion or retirement and workplace dress codes.

For more highlights and to download the full report see here.

National Aids Trust – HIV and Recruitment Guide

The National Aids Trust has published a recruitment guide to help ensure that the recruitment process is free from discriminatory treatment for people who are HIV positive. It provides practical guidance to both employers and job seekers on legal rights and advice to ensure that the recruitment process is not carried out in a discriminatory manner. Visit the NAT website for a copy of the guide

Venezuela Information Centre update on women

Women are at the heart of social progress in Venezuela with the government emphasising the need to lift women out of poverty and create equality. Before Hugo Chavez came to power the majority of Venezuelans were living in abject poverty, but now millions are benefiting from government reforms. To find out more about the situation of women in Venezuela , including interviews with leading women activists please visit the Amicus Equal Rights Website

If you are interested in finding more about the Venezuala Information Centre and the work they are doing in supporting the country please see here.

Black and Asian women

Black and Asian women are facing significantly greater employment barriers than white women. Moving on Up: Ethnic Minority Women at Work , a report by the Equal Opportunities Commission, has found that Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Black Caribbean women face significantly greater penalties than white women in the workplace. Those who want to work are finding it more difficult to get jobs, progress in the workplace and are more likely to be segregated into certain types of work.

For more details visit the EOC website.

Amicus sponsors launch of LGBT Cymru helpline’s free counselling services

Amicus was the main sponsor of the launch of a free counselling service for members of the LGBT communities who live in and around the Swansea area. The launch took place after the Stonewall Cymru Annual Conference in Swansea on Saturday 31 March.

The contact details are:

LGBT Cymru Helpline – 0870 850 8828 email – lgbtcymruhelpline.org.uk
LGBT Cymru Counselling Service – Lynne Wager – 07709 221071

Pro-Majority Campaign is launched

2007 marks that 40 th anniversary of the Abortion Act and is an opportunity to celebrate the advances gained for women and thousands of lives saved as a result of safe, legal abortion.

Abortion Rights – the national pro-choice campaign has marked the anniversary with the launch of its “Pro-choice Majority” campaign and are calling on the government in taking the lead in allowing women not doctors to make the decision about an abortion and to address the delays in service provision.

If you would like to support this campaign please visit the Abortion Rights “speak out” website which provides space for women to support the right to choose.

Women’s Aid – Giving a voice to children and young people experiencing domestic violence

Women’s Aid is calling for participation in one or more of their forthcoming projects on children and young people experiencing domestic violence. The projects aim to find out views, identify needs and changes that are required in government policy and practice in this area. This will then help Women’s Aid to lobby the Government for the improvement in service provision and the development of new resources. To find out more see here .

NUS – Student Loan Guidance and Women’s Campaign

The NUS has recently posted information on the repayment of income-contingent loans that were introduced in September 1998. The guide gives information on anomalies on repayment and is available here.

You may also be interested to find out about the NUS Women’s Campaign which includes Women at Work, Pro-Choice and Stop Violence Against Women

And remember most students work part-time and can join Amicus for only £10 per year – so if you have children in this situation why not get them to join? See the Amicus Young Members section of the website for more information and to join online.

Events and Training Amicus Women’s Health and Safety Course
There are still places available on the Amicus Women’s Health and Safety Course to be held in Esher Place on 9 to 11 May. More details of the course are available here.

If you would like to attend please contact Rebecca Carr on or telephone 020 8462 7755.

Amicus Young Members’ Course

The Amicus Young Members’ Course is being held in Esher Place from 10 to 15 June. If you are a member up to the age of 27 and would like to find out more see here.

Amicus Disability Champions

There are now over 500 Disability Champions across the trade union movement. This is a major achievement, but we still would like to see more Amicus Disability Champions. If you interested in finding our more about becoming an Amicus Disability Champion and attending a training course please see the Disability Champions website or e-mail Dave Parr .

The list of forthcoming courses are below:-

  • Wirrel Met – Liverpool 5 Tuesdays from 8th May 2007
  • Stow College , Glasgow 5 Fridays from 11th May 2007 NB: Friday 25th May is a holiday, course ends 15th June
  • Dundee College 5 Tuesdays from 15th May 2007
  • East Riding College , Hull 5 Mondays from 4th June 2007
  • Park Lane College , Leeds 5 Mondays from 4th June 2007
  • New College, Swindon 5 Mondays from 4th June 2007
  • Southampton College 5 Thursdays from 7th June 2007
  • College of NE London 3 days July 16th to 18th Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday

London Region

London Region Black and Ethnic Minority Committee

(all members from this equality can attend meetings)
5 June 2007 10.30am King Street
11 September 2007 10.30am King Street
4 December 2007 10.30am King Street

London Region Disability Committee
(all members from this equality are welcome to attend)

16 April, NUT HQ, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, WC1H 9BD 7pm
16 July , NUT HQ Hamilton House, Mabledon Place , WC1H 9BD , 7pm

London Region LGBT Committee
(all members from this equality are welcome to attend)

1 May, NUT HQ, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, WC1H 9BD , 7pm
24 July, NUT HQ, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, WC1H 9BD , 7pm

A LGBT day school on 12 May 2007 to be held at NUT HQ, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place 10am-5pm

Non-Profit and Community Sector Reps Study Day, 25 April 2007 .

If you are interested in attending these events please contact Irene Hill on 020 7780 4108 or

Yorkshire and Humberside Region

The Yorkshire and Humberside Regional Equality Meetings are being held on the dates below in the Amicus Wakefield Office. If you would like to attend please contact Justine McCarthy.

Saturday, 9 June, 10.30am
Saturday, 22 September, 10.30am
Saturday, 1 December, 10.30am

Love Music Hate Racism – events in your region

Amicus has teamed up with Love Music Hate Racism to host a number of gigs in universities around the UK . Entry is free to Amicus members. The forthcoming dates and venues are below and if you would like to attend please contact Jody Whitehill

22 April – Lancaster Uni SU
25 April – Belfast Queen Mary’s SU
27 April – Birmingham
1 May – Sussex Uni
8 May – Keele SU

There are also Love Music Hate Racism events coming up in Exeter and Glasgow .

Election Hustings – Black & Ethnic Minority, Glasgow
6.30pm Tuesday 24 April 2007
STUC Centre, 333 Woodlands Road , Glasgow G3 6NG

A key objective of the STUC’s Black Workers’ Committee is to encourage the engagement of Black and minority ethnic people with the political process in Scotland . With this in mind, the Black Workers’ Committee is holding a “hustings event” to debate issues of importance to Black and minority ethnic people in the run up to the Scottish Parliament and Local Government Elections in May 2007. The event will be held at the STUC Centre, 333 Woodlands Road , Glasgow on Tuesday 24 April 2007 at 6.30pm .

If you would like to attend please contact Gillian McKay.

Pride Events 2007

If you would like to find out more about the Pride events that are being held in 2007 follow this link

Amicus will be supporting many of these events so if you would like to get involved in helping out with this please contact Bridget Clemson in the Equality Department who will put you in contact with the appropriate person in your region – bridget.clemson@amicustheunion.org , telephone 0207 4208923.

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