Website URL : http://www.ucu.org.uk/4137||
UCU equality scheme
UCU's national executive has set up a steering group to oversee the development and implementation of a UCU equality scheme.
This is an exciting and innovative project which will give UCU a systematic way to measure and celebrate our success in achieving equality in the workplace and to identify areas for improvement. It will provide the tools for members, branches, regions and staff to embed equality within our bargaining and campaigning work.
UCU is not legally obliged to produce an equality scheme. We are doing this because it is a key way to demonstrate and articulate our commitment to equality.
The majority of the UCU scheme is made up of a three year action plan which is practical, realistic yet challenging and which covers everything UCU does as a trade union and as an employer.
This is not a paper exercise. It is about improving and promoting equality with the involvement of as wide a group of UCU members and staff as possible.
Placing the scheme in context
UCU's commitment to equality
This scheme builds on UCU's existing commitment to equality set out in our rule book and demonstrated through our structures and our actions.
UCU members work for public bodies which are legally required to promote equality and eliminate discrimination. As part of their public sector duties, colleges and universities are required to produce equality schemes, carry out equality impact assessments of their policies and procedures, consult with their recognized trade unions and involve disabled people in their decision making processes.
UCU has campaigned hard to hold colleges and universities to account and to ensure they are meeting their legal obligations under the public sector duty legislation.
However, too often our members are let down when, for example, impact assessments are not undertaken. Many members have experience of the production of lengthy equality schemes in colleges and universities without union involvement which promise to do very little.
We have therefore taken the decision to develop our own equality scheme and procedures for impact assessment to build on this commitment and to go beyond the statutory position. We recognise that the legislative structure in relation to the public sector duty, and the specific duties attached to it, will change as a result of the new Equality Act. Irrespective of any changes to legislation, UCU believes that this equality scheme will provide a benchmark against which to measure our own progress, as an employer and a union.
Development of the scheme
The NEC set up a steering group in March 2009 with representation from all NEC sub committees, the four equality standing committees and the anti casualisation committee to oversee the development and implementation of the scheme. All regional and national committees of the union were asked between October 2009 and February 2010 to consult widely in order to agree three priority action points for inclusion in the scheme.
The steering group consulted on a set of principles to govern the development of the scheme. These were agreed as:
What does this mean for branches?
Branches and local associations are encouraged to discuss their region's priority action points within the equality scheme and to feedback thoughts and suggestions for taking this work forward to regional committee members. UCU regional committee contacts are available at: Regional and national committees.
Branches and local associations have not been asked to identify their own priorities for inclusion in the scheme. In each region, regional committees were the key conduit for identifying the three priority areas for the scheme's action plan, with the involvement of all their local associations and branches. Regional committees were strongly encouraged to involve branch equality officers and members of regional equality networks.
What does this mean for regional and national committees?
Each UCU regional and national committee has identified three key action points. These may be for one, two or the full three years of the scheme. Regional and national committees will be asked to monitor progress against these action points, with the active involvement of members and branches, and to report back to Congress via the national steering group.
The action plan
Most of the scheme is its action plan. This has been developed with involvement of members and staff across all parts of the union. The scheme's action plan is the tool to embed equality within our bargaining, campaigning and organising work. As such, the scheme will provide a systematic way to measure and celebrate our success in achieving equality in all aspects of UCU's activities and to identify areas for improvement.
The full action plan, including action points from all regional and national committees and organisational functions, is available here (.doc) [671kb].
Some example action points from regional committees include:
Key themes emerge from action points submitted from regional committees:
Many of the action points from national committees cover a number of similar areas, particularly in relation to monitoring implementation of agreements, equal pay reviews, training and support for branch reps.
The equality scheme steering group will review the key themes and make recommendations for suitable support and resources.
One of the priorities of UCU's Personnel department (and of the National Executive Committee) is to undertake Equality Impact Assessments of staff policies and procedures. This will be done in conjunction with staff unions and progress will be reported to the national steering group.
The steering group will also drawn up guidelines and advice for regional committees and national committees to allow all parts of UCU's structure to assess the equality impact of any actions they are considering.
A structure will be put in place for annual monitoring of progress against the action points contained in the scheme's action plan. Support will be available from the steering group and an annual report will go to Congress each year. The steering group intends to include examples of best practice in the annual revisions made to the scheme.
More information or support
Priorities submitted from the Regional, National and HQ Operations
Sub-Committees of the National Executive Committee:
Head Office Operations