E-Equality Newsletter No 14 – July 2008

  • The Equality Bill
  • Keeping Mum Campaign
  • Over 350 reps and members attend Equality Reps’ Seminars
  • Abortion time-limit successfully defended
  • Equality and Discrimination Law News
  • Other NewsHarriet Harman makes announcement on Equality Bill

Harriet Harman, Leader of the House of Commons, recently made a statement in Parliament on some of key content of the Equality Bill which will form part of the Queen’s Speech later this year. The full document – Framework for a fairer future – the Equality Bill – can be found here

Key points include:-

1. A new Equality Duty on public bodies – the three existing public sector duties on race, disability and gender will be brought together and extended to gender reassignment, age, sexual orientation and religion or belief.

2. Age Discrimination – the age discrimination regulations are going to be extended to cover goods, facilities and services.

3. Transparency – public bodies will be required to report on gender pay, ethnic minority employment and disability employment. The Equality Duty is going to require public bodies to tackle discrimination and promote equality through their purchasing functions. Secrecy clauses that prevent people discussing their pay will be banned. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) will be conducting inquiries into certain sectors, including the financial services sector and the construction industry. A new “Kite-mark” for the private sector will be introduced and the Government will gather evidence on the effectiveness of equal pay audits in closing the gender pay gap. This will review the private sector’s progress on transparency and then consider legislation for greater transparency in company reporting over the next five years.

4. Extending Positive Action – extending positive action so that employers can take into account, when selecting between two equally qualified candidates, under-representation of disadvantaged groups – e.g. women and black and minority ethnic candidates. Women-only shortlists for selecting parliamentary candidates will be extended to 2030.

5. Strengthening enforcement – tribunals will be allowed to make wider recommendations in discrimination cases, beyond the individual to the organisation. The Government will be exploring further on how to allow discrimination claims to be brought on multiple combined grounds, e.g. if someone is discriminated against and are black and a woman. They are also looking at how to take forward the question of introducing representative actions to allow trade unions and the EHRC to bring cases on behalf of a group of people who have been discriminated against.

6. Equality Reps – there is no commitment to introducing statutory rights for Equality Reps, but that they will support the development of Equality Reps and review progress of Equality Reps via the UMF Equality Reps’ Projects.

Cath Speight, Acting Head of Equality said “Unite welcomes the measures that are going to be introduced to strengthen equality law in this country. However, we are disappointed that there are not stronger measures to require the private, not-for-profit and voluntary sectors to take action. Equality at work will not be achieved in this country if it is left for these sectors to take action on equality at work on a voluntary basis. We will continue to lobby the Government for stronger measures in this area”.

Karen Cole, currently leading on the Unite Amicus Equality Reps’ Project said “Equality Reps have the potential to bring about real change in the workplace and the Government must do more to support Equality Reps – they must introduce legislation to ensure that Equality Reps are given statutory rights so that they are properly recognised by employers and given the time off and facilities to carry out their role effectively”.

“Keeping Mum Campaign”
Unite is supporting the Fawcett Society’s campaign calling on the Government to address the links between women’s inequality and child poverty.

Women are at greater risk of poverty than men. More than one fifth of women (22%) have a persistent low income, compared to just 14% of men. The gender pay gap means that large proportions of mothers are in situations of in-work poverty and unsustainable temporary work.

Given that the well-being of children cannot be divorced from that of their mothers, the Government must understand and address the links between women’s poverty and children’s poverty, if it is to meet its child poverty targets.

Policymakers must work to create an environment where women are able to negotiate the transitions between motherhood and paid work without being exposed to risks of poverty, by having the opportunity to access a living wage, flexible work, benefits, childcare, and quality educational opportunities.

To sign the e-postcard and for more information about the campaign see here

If you would like a supply of postcards to publicise the campaign contact Bridget Clemson on bridget.clemson@unitetheunion.com

You can also come along to The End Child Poverty coalition’s national demonstration – Keep the Promise – in Trafalgar Square on 4 October. ‘ This is going to be a fun family event. See here. Watch out for information from your region about attending.

Linked TUC report – The iron triangle

Over 350 reps and members attend Equality Reps’ Seminars
Over 350 reps and members attended seminars that were held throughout the country to promote the Unite Equality Reps’ Project in May. The Project aims to introduce and train at least 400 new Equality Reps over a two year period. These seminars involved a full discussion on how to introduce Equality Reps in workplaces, what an Equality Rep’s role should be and what are the important equality workplace issues.

Karen Cole, currently leading on the Project said “these seminars were a great success and shows the high level of interest from our reps and members in progressing equality issues at work. We will be holding a one day Conference later this year to launch our Equality Reps’ training programme and I hope to see many of our reps and members in attendance and signing up to promote Equality Reps where they work”.

If you would like more details on the Project contact Karen Cole at Karen.cole@unitetheunion.com or Project Development Officer, Graham Cain at graham.cain@unitetheunion.com

Abortion time limit successfully defended
Despite attempts by the anti-abortion lobby to lower the 24-week time limit on abortion time limit in June, it was successfully defended and maintained. Abortion Rights ran a big campaign with the full support of Unite to ensure that the long fight for women’s right to abortion was not eroded.

There was a vociferous demonstration outside Parliament on the day of the vote where those in favour of maintaining the time limit out numbered the anti-abortion lobby by 5 to 1. Lorene Fabian, Chair of Unite’s National Women’s Committee said “I would like to thank all the Unite members who supported this campaign by protesting and writing to their MPs to defend the time limit. Our campaign and demonstration showed that the majority of people in this country support women’s right to choose”.

Unite is now supporting the Family Planning Association’s campaign for abortion rights for women in Northern Ireland .

You can read more about the campaign by visiting www.fpa.org.uk.
Postcards are also available from Bridget Clemson at bridget.clemson@unitetheunion.com

Equality and Discrimination Law News
Flexible Working Regulations to be extended

The Government has announced that it will be extending the Flexible Working Regulations to cover parents of older children.

Currently parents with children under the age of six and those with disabled children under the age of 18, can ask to adopt such practices. This accounts for 6.25 million parents.

If this right was extended to parents of children under the age of 17, there would be an extra 4.5 million parents eligible to ask for flexible working, according to figures from 10 Downing Street.

Unite has welcomed this news, but will continue to campaign for the Flexible Working Regulations to be extended to all workers and for a right to take a case to tribunal to challenge an employer’s refusal of a flexible working request.

Discriminatory dismissal

By law, employers have to seriously consider a request for part-time working from someone returning from maternity leave. In Shaw v CCL Ltd the Employment Appeal Tribunal said that the employer’s failure to do so amounted to sex discrimination and constructive unfair dismissal.

Unequal Successor

Unlike sex discrimination legislation, the 1970 Equal Pay Act requires an actual (as opposed to a hypothetical) comparator. The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has now said in Walton Centre for Neurology and Neuro Surgery NHS Trust v Bewley that the comparator cannot be a “successor” employee.

Other News

Diversity pays at work

Companies that encourage diversity in the workplace can reap big business benefits including tackling skills shortages, boosting morale and productivity, and cutting recruitment costs, according to a new report backed by unions and employers. ‘Talent not tokenism’, a joint TUC/CBI report says employers prepared to employ staff on the basis of ability and potential, regardless of age, sex, race, religion, disability or sexual orientation, also gain a better understanding of customers’ needs and the ability to reach untapped markets. In addition, the TUC/CBI report says they benefit from higher morale and productivity, improved retention rates and lower recruitment costs

Talent not tokenism: The business benefits of workforce diversity

Promoting LGBT Equality through Education

Challenging prejudice against LGBT people means promoting equality through education, but at present schools and colleges too often promote intolerance and bullying. The TUC working with unions and others proposes a new approach to changing this.

TUC report on BME employment

The ’employment gap’ between black and ethnic minority (BME) and white workers is closing steadily, but BME poverty rates are still nearly twice as high, according to a new report “Ten Years After” by the TUC.

The fastest area of growth in BME employment has been part-time work, but in the private sector this has led to a widening of the part-time pay gap between BME and white workers as it pays less than full-time work.

The report also identifies differences in pay between the public and private sector. Over the last ten years, the pay gap in the public sector has been virtually eliminated, but BME men working full-time in the private sector are still paid 11% less than white men. BME women earn the same as white women in both sectors.

Although poverty rates among BME workers has reduced in the last ten years, nearly half of black and ethnic minority children still live in poverty and are nearly twice as likely to live in poverty as white children.

In order to further boost employment rates and pay for black and ethnic minority workers, the report calls for employers to develop recruitment, retention and progression policies so that BME workers are able to move into senior positions.

To download the report, go here.

TUC launches Black matters newsletter

The TUC has launched a quarterly Black Matters Newsletter to bring you news on issues about black workers and employment.

The aim of this newsletter is to inform you about some of the important policy issues relating to black workers and the labour market.

The newsletter will also keep you up-to-date with the anti racism priorities of the TUC and to inform you of campaigns and events that are being run on race discrimination matters by trade unions. See here.

EHRC research update and survey

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published details of the 27 research projects established by the EHRC between November 2007 and May 2008 and which are expected to result in published reports, including projects set up by EHRC Scotland and EHRC Wales. EHRC has also published a research mail-out survey seeking views to inform future mail-outs.

The closing date for responding to the survey is Thursday 31 July 2008.

Stonewall campaigns, publications and information service

Stonewall Cymru is launching the ‘Some people are gay – get over it’ bi-lingual campaign in schools and businesses shortly and this is being supported by the Unite Wales Region. Watch out for news.

Recent Stonewall publications include ‘Homophobic Hate Crime. The Gay British Crime Survey 2008′ and ‘Prescription for Change: Lesbian and Bisexual women’s health check 2008′. Stonewall has also launched a new free-phone advice and information service on 08000 50 20 20.

Department of Health research on eliminating age discrimination

The Department of Health has published a report presenting the findings of research on the costs and benefits of eliminating age discrimination in the provision of health and social care to inform decisions on whether to pursue legislation to outlaw such discrimination.

TUC calls for better support for hundreds of thousands of workers with mental health problems
The TUC has published new guidance to help employers and unions support people with mental health problems at work. This is available to download here.

Events and Training

Unite Equality Training Courses
Unite will be running a number of Unite equality training courses in 2008 ranging from discrimination law, to leadership for equality activists and stress, harassment and bullying. If you would like to find out more follow the link

Pride Events 2008
Planned Pride events for 2008 are listed below. Unite will be supporting a lot of these events and you can contact your Regional Office to find out more.

The Pride Event in Brighton will be taking place on the 2nd August and Unite needs support for both the march and our stall in Preston Park . We will be meeting at 10am at the entrance to the pier and more information can be obtained by contacting Claire Simpson, Regional Equality Officer on 01293 544419 or e-mail claire.simpson@unitetheunion.com

We are sponsoring UK Black Pride on 17 th August in London . Come along and support the event. For more details contact Bridget Clemson on bridget.clemson@unitetheunion.com

The North West is officially sponsoring the Manchester Pride event to be held over the August Bank Holiday.

Unite will have a stall at the Festival being held on 23rd, 24th and 25th August, and will be taking part in the Parade on Saturday 23rd August. As sponsors, it is important that we have a good presence at the event and are looking for activist and volunteers to help at the festival. For more details and to support the event e-mail sarah.holden@unitetheunioncom

19-20 July 2008
Lincolnshire Gay Pride

25 July – 3 August 2008
EuroPride in STOCKHOLM – Sweden

Saturday 26 July 2008
Nottingham Pride

26 July – 3 August 2008
Brighton and Hove Gay Pride – Festival

26 July – 2 August 2008
Belfast Gay Pride

27 July 2008
Huddersfield Pink Picnic

Saturday 2 August 2008
Brighton and Hove Gay Pride – Parade and park party

Sunday 3 August 2008
Pride in our City – Leeds

7-10 August 2008
Reykjavik Gay Pride – Iceland

Saturday 9 August 2008
Gloucestershire Rainbow Day

Saturday 9 August 2008
Hull Pride

Saturday 16 August 2008
UK Black Pride – London

Saturday 16 August
Swindon Pride

Sunday 17 August 2008
Doncaster Pride

15 – 25 August 2008
Manchester Gay Pride – Festival

Saturday 23 August 2008
Manchester Gay Pride – Parade

Saturday 23 August 2008
Cornwall Gay Pride – Beach picnic Day

Saturday 30 August 2008
Reading Gay Pride

Saturday 6 September 2008
Cardiff Pride

11-14 September 2008
SuperGay weekender – Middlesbrough

26 September 2008
Derby Pride

23-26 October 2008
York Lesbian Arts F estival

Uncertain Status: A TUC seminar on employment status and access to employment rights in the UK .

Organising and campaigning for a fair deal.

Wednesday 23 July 2008
Congress House, Great Russell Street , London WC1 3LS

Contact – Guy Benton. Tel: 020 7467 1335 Fax: 020 7467 1265 e-mail: gbenton@tuc.org.uk

Post: Guy Benton, Equality and Employment Rights Department, TUC, Congress House, Great Russell Street , London WC1B 3LS.

Run the 2008 Women’s Challenge for the Fawcett Society

Show the UK what a feminist looks like and join the Fawcett Society for the 5 kilometre Challenge for Women on Sunday 7th September !

Women of all ages and ability are running or walking. The event is setting off at 11am in London ‘s Hyde Park , Birmingham ‘s City Centre or Liverpool ‘s Sefton Park to raise money for their favourite charity.

If you want to take part as a runner or you just want to support Fawcett’s runners visit the Fawcett website for more information.

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