E-Equality Newsletter No. 16 April 2009

  • Equality Bill published
  • Overwhelming response to Equality Rep role
  • Unite for jobs demonstration May 16, 2009 – Birmingham
  • Organising and campaigning for BAME workers
  • EHRC report into equal pay in the finance sector
  • G20 Demonstration for Jobs, Justice and the Climate
  • Equality and Discrimination Law News
  • Other News
  • Events and Training

Equality Bill published

The Equality Bill was published on 27 April and sets out new laws which aim to help narrow the gap between rich and poor and create a more equal society in this country.

The Bill will simplify the law which, over the last four decades, has become complex and difficult to navigate. Nine major pieces of legislation and around 100 other measures will be replaced by a single Act written in plain English to make it easier for individuals and employers to understand their legal rights and obligations. The Bill is expected to come in to force from autumn 2010.

The Equality Bill measures include:

  1. Introducing a new public sector duty to consider reducing socio-economic inequalities;
  2. Putting a new Equality Duty on public bodies;
  3. Using public procurement to improve equality;
  4. Banning age discrimination outside the workplace;
  5. Introducing gender pay reports in 2013 if employers with over 250 employees do not take action by then;
  6. Extending the scope to use positive action;
  7. Strengthening the powers of employment tribunals;
  8. Protecting carers from discrimination;
  9. Offering new mothers stronger protection when breastfeeding;
  10. Banning discrimination in private clubs; and
  11. Strengthening protection from discrimination for disabled people.

Siobhan Endean, Unite Head of Equalities says “We welcome the publication of the Equality Bill and the recognition that the commitment to fairness and equality will not be a casualty of the global economic crisis.

This Bill is an important landmark in the struggle for equality at work. While it does not go as far as we would like in all areas, it does include positive commitments from which workplaces, communities, families and individuals can benefit.

“We will continue to press for the Bill to include stronger action on equal pay to close the gender pay gap and rights for union equality representatives as the missing link to equality for men and women workers at the sharp end.

“The challenge for the government is to ensure fairness and equality is at the heart of the response to the global economic crisis. Discrimination and unequal pay are a cost to our economy which we cannot afford today or for future generations.”

For more information about the Equality Bill see the Government Equality Office website
Overwhelming response to Equality Rep role

Well over 600 reps and members have now expressed an interest in becoming Unite Equality Reps following the launch of the Equality Reps Project in February last year.

Siobhan Endean, Unite Head of Equalities, says “the Project Team has been delighted with the positive response that we have received from both existing reps and members about taking on the role of Equality Rep in their workplace. We are in the progress of finalising the Stage 1 Equality Reps training programme and the dates and venues for the course will be advertised shortly. It is excellent that we will soon have trained Equality Reps promoting equality and dignity at work which is even more vital in the current economic climate”.

If you are interested in becoming an Equality Rep please contact Bridget Clemson for more information.

More information about the Project is also available at the Unite website

Join one of our equality networks:

You can also join our Equality Reps’ Facebook site
Unite for jobs demonstration May 16, 2009 – Birmingham:

There is not a family in the land untouched by the global recession. That is why Unite is pressing for clear and urgent action to defend jobs.

The government took action to fix our broken finance system – now we need them to do more to help ordinary people weather the economic storm.

This is about OUR futures. That is why it is so important that people send a clear message to the government that we want jobs to be its number one priority.

Time is running out. Without a concerted effort from national government to protect jobs, our reputation as a country where employers can find talented workers will be shattered for years to come.

This march is all about working people. It is about our communities. It’s about our future and the jobs of generations to come.

Be part of this day – and march with Unite.

Time: Saturday, May 16 from 11am-3pm
Host: Unite the Union
Contact phone: 07831 659 939
Location: Birmingham City Centre – route to be confirmed ( Birmingham , United Kingdom ) Birmingham City Centre

Further information on this important demonstration

Organising and campaigning for BAME workers

Unite is at the forefront of the campaign to tackle rising Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) unemployment in the recession, and at a time when many of our members face redundancy our union is campaigning to save jobs and pensions.

Our union has also published in depth research into BAME workers’ experiences of bullying and harassment and the importance of dignity at work for all.

Our union is also supporting the crucial campaign against the BNP in the forthcoming European elections with many of our activists encouraging a vote against the BNP.

The TUC Black Workers Conference was held in Scarborough on 24-26 April and our union raised the priority issues as determined by our BAME members through our BAME structures. The issues debated included the importance of strengthening the proposals for the Equality Bill, statutory rights for Equality Reps and the campaign against fascism and the BNP.

Our BAME members’ network is an important group of members through which we continue to share knowledge and campaigning information. Please sign up to it to receive information on local, national and international campaigning events:

Find out the latest on our campaign against the BNP at the forthcoming European elections.

EHRC report into equal pay in the finance sector

A report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has revealed significant gender pay gaps in the finance sector of up to 60 percent.

The findings also show that amongst the highest earners, the gender pay gap for full time hourly gross earnings is 45 percent, while women working full-time in the lowest paid roles in the sector receive on average 16 percent less in hourly gross pay than their male colleagues.

Unite was consulted and provided research and information to the EHRC Report and will continue to be involved in the continuing investigation and recommendations. More information.
G20 Demonstration for Jobs, Justice and the Climate

Tens of thousands of people converged on central London on Saturday 28 March at the Trade Union demonstration to highlight to the G20 leaders the concerns of working people

Unite members joined the carnival atmosphere to raise awareness that thousands of ordinary people are losing their jobs while the bank executives and financial traders who caused the problems are still in theirs – and claiming bonuses and gold-plated pensions. See pictures from the demonstration.

Equality and Discrimination Law News

Equality and Human Rights Commission receives UN accreditation;

In February this year the EHRC received formal notification of accreditation from the UN as a National Human Rights Institute (NHRI). This gives the EHRC this opportunity to contribute to international law policy, debate, and understanding about human rights. The EHCR can also fully participate in the Human Rights Council of the UN with written and verbal interventions. More information.

Changes to flexible working rights from April 2009

The Regulations to extend the right to request flexible working to carers of children under 17 was introduced in April 2009. The right to request flexible working for carers of disabled children under 18 is unchanged. More information and to view the regulations.
Upper age limit unlawful

A London Central employment tribunal has upheld the decision that the upper age limit for applications for the post of air traffic controller at 35 is considered to be unlawful age discrimination.

More details surround this case can be found on the equal opportunities review web-site. Please note you may need to sign up to this service to read the article and others.

Other News

EHRC and government to work together to assess the impact of the recession

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is to work in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to assess how the recession may be impacting on different groups of people, for example women, ethnic minorities and older and disabled people.

Working with the DWP, the Commission will also look at what policies the Government could put in place if evidence shows that these groups are disproportionately affected by the downturn, and how to properly target help to take advantage of a post-recession recovery. More information.
Organising Guide to Equality

Please take the opportunity to view our latest Campaigning and Organising guide to Equality. The document is a great way to identify key dates for your diary and to organise around issues in your workplace as well as finding out more about the work Unite is undertaking on equality.

A PDF version of the guide is available and the guide can also be ordered through publications in the normal manner.

Welsh Minister announces £4million initiative to tackling barriers faced from people from black and minority ethnic communities

Social justice and local government minister, Brian Gibbons, has announced the above scheme which has been funded with over £2million from the European Convergence Fund, matched by the Welsh Assembly. The scheme will be led by the All Wales Ethnic Minority Association (AWEMA) and will provide work and skills opportunities for over 1,000 people across West Wales and the Valleys area. It will also help people furthest from the labour market, particularly women, to gain new qualifications and enter further education. More information.

Unite on Twitter

Twitter is a free service for organisations, friends, family, and co-workers to communicate and stay connected through the exchange of quick, frequent answers to one simple question: What are you doing?

It’s another way to communicate so you always know what the union is doing by receiving bite-sized updates. More information.
Backing Heathrow – Backing Britain

Find out why Unite is backing the expansion of Heathrow, and why we need more jobs at this time of economic turbulence
Irish Congress of Trade Union’s women’s seminar

The impact of the economic slump on gender equality was the theme of a special women’s seminar held earlier this month.

More than 130 delegates from across Ireland attended the ICTU-organised event.

Delegates heard that disabled members struggle to achieve reasonable adjustment/accommodation from reluctant employers. 50% of disabled people are unemployed (this figure can rise as far as 98% in some disabling conditions e.g. mental health illness). The majority have acquired their disability while working. Disability Champions have specialist training in disability matters and can provide useful guidance. Further information.
Abortion rights campaign

It is Unite policy to defend women’s abortion rights. Despite attempts by the anti-abortion lobby to lower the 24-week time limit on abortion time limit in 2008 via the Human Embryology Bill, women’s rights were 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.

Abortion rights’ funds have been severely depleted as a result of the campaign and they are calling for more members and affiliates. So please consider joining yourself and encouraging your union branches and regions to join as well. More information.

Sexual orientation and trans-status

‘Real and pressing need’ for HEIs to address high levels of discrimination

Higher education institutions that fail to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) students and staff run the risk of damaging their reputation and losing students. Based on a survey of 4205 staff and students in England , Wales and Northern Ireland the research, led by Professor Gill Valentine at the University of Leeds , found that institutions provide a positive space for LGBT students. More information.
New HSE Web-site

For all Unite Reps, and Equality Reps the HSE has a new web-site with up-to-date information about the law at work, risk assessments and employers duty of care.

Daily Mirror Asbestos Time-bomb campaign

The Daily Mirror is running a high profile campaign seeking action from the government in five target areas:

  1. £10 million National Centre for Asbestos Related Diseases
  2. compensation reinstated for victims of ‘pleural plagues’
  3. fair and equal compensation for asbestos disease suffers who can’t trace the insurers of the bosses who exposed them
  4. a public register of all asbestos survey’s carried out on public buildings
  5. The Health and Safety Executive must be given the resources to meet its own targets for inspecting asbestos removal work.

More information.

Time to end women’s poverty : A new TUC poster campaign.

The TUC has produced a set of three posters raising awareness about women’s low pay and poverty.

Carers’ week – 8-14 June 2009

If you would like to promote Carers’ Week in June in your workplace you can register to obtain free materials such as leaflets, posters, balloons etc and also access various other resources.

Women’s Funding Network

Women’s funding network tackles our greatest global challenges: economic security, access to healthcare and education, family and community violence, sex trafficking and human rights violations.

Urge United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the U.S. State Department to take action now for Jestina Mukoko and other imprisoned human rights activists, and the women and families who are the daily victims of government neglect and harassment. Further news and to sign the petition:

LRD – Workplace Report – for the latest news on RPI, full-time weekly average earnings.

Gordon Brown hosts first LGBT reception

Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah held an historic reception to celebrate the work of LGBT campaigners in March.

This event was historic as it was the first time the LGBT community had been invited to a Downing Street reception and No 10. Find out more.
Events and Training

Unite Equality training courses

Women’s week – Esher Place 27-31 July

National women members school – Eastbourne – 12-17 July

Young members – Esher Place – 7-12 June & 5-10 July

More information.

Apply for any of these courses.

Dates for your diary

Rally for Europe

with Caroline Flint MP, Minister for Europe
Saturday 9th May
10am – 7pm , Liverpool
The Casa, Hope Street , Liverpool , L1 9BQ

LGBT Labour North West in collaboration with the North West Euro Team, Young Labour North West, Labour Students, Manchester Labour Party and Liverpool Labour Group would like to invite you to kick off the final month of the European election campaign with us in Liverpool . The plan for the day is as follows:

10am – 1pm @ The Casa – Campaign speeches from local MPs, MEPs and candidates followed by a panel Q&A with Europe Minister Caroline Flint and lunch

1pm – 4pm – Campaigning in key target wards across Liverpool

4pm – 7pm @ 3345 Parr Street – Drinks reception and buffet

You can find out more about the event online.

Love Music Hate Racism Festival 2009

The 2009 Love Music Hate Racism Festival will be taking place at Stoke-on-Trent’s Britannia Stadium on the 30th May, running from 12 midday 10pm .

The festival will be the highlight of LMHR’s campaign against the BNP in the European Parliament elections

Tickets cost £10, and are available from:

Stoke City FC website:

A list of coaches already booked and local Festival co-ordinators.

More information

Faith, Homophobia and Human Rights Conference 16 May

May IDAHO International Day against Homophobia – 17 May 2009

TUC Disability Conference, Congress House 20-21 May

Northern Pensions Conference 26-27 June –

Pride Events 22 June-4 July

Blackpool Pride – 16-17 May

Takes place over the weekend of 16-17 May, and will be bigger than ever this year. We are looking for members, reps, officers and staff to assist with the stall and the parade, anyone who can spare a couple of hours and are interested in volunteering should contact Regional Officer, Graham Cain by telephone: 0161-7988976.

  • Birmingham Pride – 23-25 May
  • Dublin Gay Pride – 18-28 May
  • Pride London Festival 20 June – 5 July
  • Pride Scotia – Edinburgh – 27 June
  • TUC LGBT Conference, Congress House, London – 2-3 July

London Pride Parade and Rally – 4 July
Any members wishing to take part in Unite activities , please contact Wayne Lawlor
Bournemouth Pride – 10-12 July

Northern Pride – Saturday 18 July 2009 – Newcastle

The Brighton & Hove Pride festival starts on the 25th July and runs through that week culminating in the Pride March on the 2nd August. More information on the activities. Unite will be participating in the march and will have a stall in the community section of Preston Park .

If any member wishes to join us on the march they can email Claire Simpson, Regional Officer, South East Region.

Further information on materials, information on your rights at work.

If you would like to receive the e-equality Newsletter on a regular basis and are not doing so already, please contact Bridget Clemson, National Administrator, Equalities, with your e-mail address, to be added to our contact list.

Contact Wayne Lawlor, Unite Amicus Project Development Officer, 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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