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Business of the equality committee

UCU Congress 2011: Monday 30 May, 14:45-16.45.

Chapter 5 of the NEC's report to UCU Congress 2011:
UCU331.html
| UCU331.rtf

Motions:

66 - Equality Impact Assessments
67 - Black workers, the current economic situation and restructuring
68 - Equality officers
69 - Defend Multiculturalism
70 - EUMC working definition of anti-semitism
71 - Religious attire
72 - Taking the Single Equality Scheme forward
73 - The need for bilingual UCU materials in Welsh institutions
74 - Defending the rights of disabled people
75 - Mental health and hidden disabilities in the workplace
76 - Fitness-for-work test and benefit cuts
77 - An LGB and T response to EDL and Islamophobia
78 - Defending diversity and advancing equality in and through research
79 - The UK Uncapped Campaign
80 - Black women and employment


Public sector duties (report paragraph 3)

66 Equality Impact Assessments - National Executive Committee

Congress notes:

  1. the requirements on universities and colleges to carry out equality impact assessments.
  2. the lack of guidelines on how to do assessments and sanctions.
  3. reports that many institutions are not taking their responsibilities seriously.

Congress instructs Equality Committee with the support of Equality Unit to carry out a survey of branches in both HE and FE to identify:

  1. good practice, if any
  2. successful experience and tactics in negotiating EIAs or getting institutions to make changes as a result of EIAs
  3. particularly bad practice for naming and shaming.

Congress instructs Equality Committee and Equality Unit to publicise the results to members and in the media use them to support a campaign for legal enforced guidelines on carrying out EIAs and serious sanctions for institutions that do not carry them out properly and/or do not address the findings.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

66A.1 National Executive Committee

After final paragraph add:

'Congress notes the threat posed by the Government policy review paper of 17 March 2011 which seeks to remove completely the requirement for colleges and universities to publish the details of equality analysis (EIAs) undertaken and endorses the view of both the TUC and EHRC in maintaining that EIAs are an essential means of ensuring institutions pay 'due regard' to equality as stated in the General Duty (Public Sector Equality Duty).'

CARRIED

66A.2 Anti-casualisation committee

Add new point 4: 'Institutions have singularly failed to ensure that equality impact assessments take account of the inequality experienced by casualised workers in HE and FE. This is particularly the case regarding zero hours and fixed term contracts.'

Add at point a) after 'if any': 'including any examples where the impact on casualised staff has been assessed'

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress notes:

  1. the requirements on universities and colleges to carry out equality impact assessments.
  2. the lack of guidelines on how to do assessments and sanctions.
  3. reports that many institutions are not taking their responsibilities seriously
  4. institutions have singularly failed to ensure that equality impact assessments take account of the inequality experienced by casualised workers in HE and FE. This is particularly the case regarding zero hours and fixed term contracts.

Congress instructs Equality Committee with the support of Equality Unit to carry out a survey of branches in both HE and FE to identify:

  1. good practice, if any, including any examples where the impact on casualised staff has been assessed
  2. successful experience and tactics in negotiating EIAs or getting institutions to make changes as a result of EIAs
  3. particularly bad practice for naming and shaming.

Congress instructs Equality Committee and Equality Unit to publicise the results to members and in the media use them to support a campaign for legal enforced guidelines on carrying out EIAs and serious sanctions for institutions that do not carry them out properly and/or do not address the findings.

Congress notes the threat posed by the Government policy review paper of 17 March 2011 which seeks to remove completely the requirement for colleges and universities to publish the details of equality analysis (EIAs) undertaken and endorses the view of both the TUC and EHRC in maintaining that EIAs are an essential means of ensuring institutions pay 'due regard' to equality as stated in the General Duty (Public Sector Equality Duty).


67 Black workers, the current economic situation and restructuring - Black members' standing committee

The current economic situation and other organisational changes are resulting in unprecedented voluntary and compulsory redundancies in Further and Higher Education. Current evidence suggests that some groups of workers are more likely to be discriminated against in redundancy situations than others. It has therefore become even more important to carry out Equality Impact Assessments (EIA) to ensure that any changes comply with anti-discrimination legislation, as well as the steps to take if negative impacts are identified. Congress calls on UCU to:

  1. ensure that institutions are conducting rigorous EIAs, that restructures are demonstrably open and fair and do not significantly affect any particular group of staff disproportionately or lead to an increase in the workload of staff without matching grade and pay
  2. take the necessary step(s) to challenge institutions that fail to conduct comprehensive EIAs on their plans to implement cuts through restructuring and redundancies.

REMITTED


Support for regions and branches (report paragraph 7)

68 Equality officers - National Executive Committee

UCU is committed to ensuring that there is an equality officer in every branch and region with adequate facility time.

Congress notes the importance of this role in furthering equality, particularly now we are facing cuts including redundancies. UCU must be able to challenge effectively any discriminatory impact of cuts and redundancies.

The NEC is instructed to:

  1. organise a number of regional events for equality representatives in order to:
    • share best practice in utilising this role within the union and with employers
    • enhance skills and knowledge
    • improve communications between national, regional and local structures
  2. encourage the development of regional equality networks to support the equality agenda
  3. research and disseminate where facility time for equality reps exists and to encourage all recognition agreements to include equality representatives.

CARRIED


Campaigning for equality (report paragraph 10)

69 Composite: Defend Multiculturalism - National Executive Committee, Barnsley College, Northern regional committee

Congress notes that Cameron's recent attack on multiculturalism reinforces racism in our society and undermines respect for diversity. It further notes the opportunistic timing, coinciding with the EDL demonstration in Luton. It is no accident that Cameron chose to link his racist attack to one on Muslims. Reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher's 1978 statement that Britain was 'being swamped by alien culture' he has branded Britain's Muslims as the new 'enemy within'. This is in the context of his government's massive cuts in education and the welfare state which hit disabled people, women and ethnic minorities the hardest. The comments are a crude attempt to deflect anger away from his government's public sector cuts and attacks on student fees.

Congress congratulates Unite Against Fascism (UAF) for organising opposition to this attack and reaffirms its affiliation to UAF and commits to help build mobilisations to stop the EDL spreading their message of hate on our streets.

Congress believes our multicultural society and the respect and solidarity it is built on are a cause for pride and rejects any moves by this government to undermine and destroy it.

Congress supports the statement on multiculturalism (UCU/339, 31 March 2011) and notes the need for organised resistance to fascist and racist organisations such as the BNP and EDL. Congress emphasises the central role of education and teachers in this and in promoting respect for and understanding of diversity.

Congress calls on the NEC to work with Unite Against Fascism, Hope not Hate and all anti-fascist groups and with other unions to produce campaigning materials, coordinate events and educate at local and national level in defence of multiculturalism and education, and against racism and fascism.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

69A.1 North West Regional Committee

Add at the end of paragraph 2:

'Further it notes that a key aim of the EDL flash mob strategy is to drain the resources of the anti-fascist movement through repeated provocative invasions of vulnerable communities.  In recognition of this, it calls on the NEC to sanction a £1,000 emergency donation to Unite Against Fascism at the earliest possible opportunity, to assist it in maintaining its invaluable work.'

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress notes that Cameron's recent attack on multiculturalism reinforces racism in our society and undermines respect for diversity. It further notes the opportunistic timing, coinciding with the EDL demonstration in Luton. It is no accident that Cameron chose to link his racist attack to one on Muslims. Reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher's 1978 statement that Britain was 'being swamped by alien culture' he has branded Britain's Muslims as the new 'enemy within'. This is in the context of his government's massive cuts in education and the welfare state which hit disabled people, women and ethnic minorities the hardest. The comments are a crude attempt to deflect anger away from his government's public sector cuts and attacks on student fees.

Congress congratulates Unite Against Fascism (UAF) for organising opposition to this attack and reaffirms its affiliation to UAF and commits to help build mobilisations to stop the EDL spreading their message of hate on our streets. Further it notes that a key aim of the EDL flash mob strategy is to drain the resources of the anti-fascist movement through repeated provocative invasions of vulnerable communities.  In recognition of this, it calls on the NEC to sanction a £1,000 emergency donation to Unite Against Fascism at the earliest possible opportunity, to assist it in maintaining its invaluable work.

Congress believes our multicultural society and the respect and solidarity it is built on are a cause for pride and rejects any moves by this government to undermine and destroy it.

Congress supports the statement on multiculturalism (UCU/339, 31 March 2011) and notes the need for organised resistance to fascist and racist organisations such as the BNP and EDL. Congress emphasises the central role of education and teachers in this and in promoting respect for and understanding of diversity.

Congress calls on the NEC to work with Unite Against Fascism, Hope not Hate and all anti-fascist groups and with other unions to produce campaigning materials, coordinate events and educate at local and national level in defence of multiculturalism and education, and against racism and fascism.


Campaigning for equality (report paragraph 11)

70 EUMC working definition of anti-semitism - National Executive Committee

Congress notes with concern that the so-called 'EUMC working definition of antisemitism', while not adopted by the EU or the UK government and having no official status, is being used by bodies such as the NUS and local student unions in relation to activities on campus.

Congress believes that the EUMC definition confuses criticism of Israeli government policy and actions with genuine antisemitism, and is being used to silence debate about Israel and Palestine on campus.

Congress resolves:

  1. that UCU will make no use of the EUMC definition (e.g. in educating members or dealing with internal complaints)
  2. that UCU will dissociate itself from the EUMC definition in any public discussion on the matter in which UCU is involved
  3. that UCU will campaign for open debate on campus concerning Israel's past history and current policy, while continuing to combat all forms of racial or religious discrimination.

CARRIED


Campaigning for equality (report paragraph 12)

71 Religious attire - National Executive Committee

Congress notes the importance of people of all faiths having the right to wear the religious head-dress and other religious attire appropriate to their faiths.

Congress also notes the importance of the right to wear the appropriate dress in ensuring and increasing participation in further and higher education, and in enabling people, particularly women, to access education at all levels, and calls on NEC to formulate a policy.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

71A.1 LSE

delete first paragraph and insert

Congress notes that an important purpose of education is to combat superstition and prejudice. It accepts that people of all faiths or of none have the right to dress as they personally consider appropriate.

LOST

71A.2 Nelson and Colne College

Remove full stop and add at end:

which reflects this.

In light of increasing Islamaphobia eg. the French ban on wearing the veil, the Swiss ban on minarets, moves to outlaw the burkha in various countries, and the alarming precedent of a UK college prohibiting students from wearing the veil in college, Congress resolves to work with the NUT, NUS, Unite Against Fascism and other anti-fascist organisations to:

1. hold a conference on fighting Islamaphobia in education and

2. produce an anti-Islamaphobia teaching pack.

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress notes the importance of people of all faiths having the right to wear the religious head-dress and other religious attire appropriate to their faiths.

Congress also notes the importance of the right to wear the appropriate dress in ensuring and increasing participation in further and higher education, and in enabling people, particularly women, to access education at all levels, and calls on NEC to formulate a policy which reflects this.

In light of increasing Islamaphobia eg. the French ban on wearing the veil, the Swiss ban on minarets, moves to outlaw the burkha in various countries, and the alarming precedent of a UK college prohibiting students from wearing the veil in college, Congress resolves to work with the NUT, NUS, Unite Against Fascism and other anti-fascist organisations to:

  1. hold a conference on fighting Islamaphobia in education and
  2. produce an anti-Islamaphobia teaching pack.

UCU Equality scheme (report paragraph 13)

72 Taking the Single Equality Scheme forward - National Executive Committee

Congress notes that at Congress 2010, the UCU Equality Scheme was overwhelmingly endorsed. The scheme has now been active for a year and has been successful in providing a focus for our equality work. Congress further notes that the Equality Scheme now exists in challenging times and developing the priorities will help support members in fighting cuts including redundancies.

Congress endorses the UCU Equality Scheme progress report (UCU/335, 24 March 2011).

Progress must continue and Congress instructs the NEC to:

  1. ensure that the scheme is a standing item on all national and regional committees so progress is monitored and evaluated
  2. support the development of the scheme  through sharing achievements including case studies and identifying  opportunities to raise its profile
  3. ensure the priorities which support the fight against cuts, including redundancies, are supported over the next year.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

72A.1 West Midlands retired members branch

Add fourth bullet point:

4. highlight the issue of age equality, which is for the first time covered by the Equality Act 2010 and instigate the development of the scheme's key themes to include this area of discrimination.

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress notes that at Congress 2010, the UCU Equality Scheme was overwhelmingly endorsed. The scheme has now been active for a year and has been successful in providing a focus for our equality work. Congress further notes that the Equality Scheme now exists in challenging times and developing the priorities will help support members in fighting cuts including redundancies.

Congress endorses the UCU Equality Scheme progress report (UCU/335, 24 March 2011).

Progress must continue and Congress instructs the NEC to:

  1. ensure that the scheme is a standing item on all national and regional committees so progress is monitored and evaluated
  2. support the development of the scheme  through sharing achievements including case studies and identifying  opportunities to raise its profile
  3. ensure the priorities which support the fight against cuts, including redundancies, are supported over the next year
  4. highlight the issue of age equality, which is for the first time covered by the Equality Act 2010 and instigate the development of the scheme's key themes to include this area of discrimination.

73 The need for bilingual UCU materials in Welsh institutions - Bangor University

The new Welsh Language Measure 2011 confirms the official status of the Welsh language in Wales and creates a Welsh Language Commissioner with strong enforcement powers to protect the rights of Welsh speakers to access services through the medium of Welsh, notably in the public sector. Consequently, all UCU publicity material to be displayed by or distributed to groups in Wales needs to be made available in both Welsh and English. Failure to do so would be discriminatory, risk breaching Welsh universities' own language policies, and set UCU apart from other unions who provide more materials in Welsh and seek to recruit members in both Further and Higher Education.

CARRIED


Equality for disabled members (report paragraph 14)

74 Defending the rights of disabled people - Disabled members standing committee

Congress deplores the way disabled people are often portrayed as 'slackers' in the media.  Congress believes that this view is being exploited by the coalition government to cut disability benefits, including the Disability Living Allowance and Access to Work hence excluding many disabled people from the work force. This conflicts directly with the Government's policy to get disabled people into or staying in work. Attacking benefits that support disabled people at work will increase marginalisation and social exclusion. The coalition Government is forcing disabled people out of the mainstream of our society and leaves them vulnerable not only financially but in their communities. 

Congress calls upon the NEC to:

  1. develop a campaign to ensure that disabled people's employment rights are protected and enforced
  2. work with a coalition of trade unions and disabled people's organisations to defend disability  benefits and the civil rights of disabled people.

CARRIED


Equality for disabled members (report paragraph 16)

75 Composite: Mental health and hidden disabilities in the workplace - Academic related committee, Disabled members standing committee

UCU members are increasingly experiencing anxiety, depression and stress. Many are scared to discuss their impairment at work because of the negative reaction they will get from their employers and work colleagues. This concealment impacts further on their health as employers challenge sickness absences or changes in performance. 

UCU needs to protect and support the mental health of members. We need to create workplaces where mental health issues are addressed and supported appropriately. Members need to know their rights and new rights under the Equality Act 2010 and what this means in practical terms.

It is crucial that members with mental health conditions feel acknowledged and supported by their union and that their conditions can be declared and de-stigmatised particularly as the potential for discrimination when it comes to redundancy is grave.

Whilst acknowledging the work already undertaken by the Disabled Members Committee to effect this, Congress believes more needs to be done to identify the different types of conditions that exist in society, and that additional guidance needs to be developed to address the problems facing members with 'hidden disabilities' such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, autism, OCD etc. Guidance also needs to address problems arising from rules around disclosure of these conditions.

Congress calls upon the NEC to:  

  1. establish a mental health working group to address representation of those with mental health conditions and hidden disabilities on the relevant committees to increase awareness comprehensively of mental health conditions
  2. publicise and disseminate the new UCU guidance on mental health
  3. negotiate workplace policies that support mental health including disability leave agreements
  4. tackle workplace cultures which inhibit disclosure of mental health as an impairment.

CARRIED


Equality for disabled members (report paragraph 20)

76 Fitness-for-work test and benefit cuts - Open University

Congress notes:

  1. the concerns expressed by charities and other organisations involved in supporting people with disabilities about the so-called fitness-for-work test
  2. that high unemployment always tends to put pressure on wage/salary levels
  3. that cutting benefits to people who are unable to compete in a competitive labour market is likely to further foster a submerged economy in which people are forced to work illegally and for less than the national minimum wage
  4. that people with learning difficulties and the mentally ill are vulnerable to being deemed fit for work and then deemed to be not engaging properly in the search for work, and risk losing benefits altogether if the government carries out its intentions.

Congress opposes the cutting or reduction in benefits to any disabled person or to any unemployed person.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

76A.1 Disabled members standing committee

In bullet point 1 delete 'charities and other', insert 'disabled' between 'supporting' and 'people', delete 'with disabilities', and add at end 'and work capability assessment administered by Atos Origin'.

In bullet point 2 delete 'put pressure on' and insert 'drive down'.

In bullet point 3 add 'disabled' between 'to and 'people' and delete 'who are unable to compete'.

In bullet point 4 delete 'the mentally ill are vulnerable' and insert 'mental health support needs are susceptible'. After 'work' in second line insert 'by Atos Origin'. After 'work' in third line insert 'by the Department of Work and Pensions'. At the end delete 'intentions' and insert 'welfare reform agenda'.

In final sentence delete all after 'benefits' and insert 'and instructs the NEC to campaign with organisations of disabled people such as disabled people against cuts and Black Triangle for an end to the current discredited assessment process'.

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress notes:

  1. the concerns expressed by organisations involved in supporting disabled people about the so-called fitness-for-work test and work capability assessment administered by Atos Origin
  2. that high unemployment always tends to drive down wage/salary levels
  3. that cutting benefits to disabled people in a competitive labour market is likely to further foster a submerged economy in which people are forced to work illegally and for less than the national minimum wage
  4. that people with learning difficulties and mental health support needs are susceptible to being deemed fit for work by Atos Origin and then deemed to be not engaging properly in the search for work by the Department of Work and Pensions, and risk losing benefits altogether if the government carries out its welfare reform agenda.

Congress opposes the cutting or reduction in benefits and instructs the NEC to campaign with organisations of disabled people such as disabled people against cuts and Black Triangle for an end to the current discredited assessment process.


Equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members (report paragraph 21)

77 An LGB and T response to EDL and Islamophobia - LGBT members standing committee

Congress notes that Islamophobia is now the 'respectable' form of racism. The fallout from the 'war on terror' has left Muslims branded as an 'enemy within'. The LGB and T communities have not been immune to this rising Islamophobia and Congress notes that the EDL has had some success in attracting LGBT people to its ranks.

Congress also notes that in addition to its attacks on Muslims in Britain, the EDL has links to the BNP and other extreme right-wing organisations in Europe. These are fascist organisations which condemn and would remorselessly persecute LGBT people.

Congress deplores the recruitment of any LGBT people to the EDL, and resolves to

  1. mobilise alongside trade unions, Queer Resistance, LGBT groups and anti-fascist organisations against the EDL, their actions and their message of hate
  2. support activities, produce posters and leaflets promoting the history of radical campaigns and ongoing struggle for LGBT liberation.

CARRIED


Equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members (report paragraph 23)

78 Defending diversity and advancing equality in and through research - LGBT members standing committee

Congress notes that cuts in funding often hit marginalised groups hardest and cuts in subject areas constrict learning opportunities

Congress believes that marketisation often results in a more limited range of courses aimed at the traditionally powerful, visible and/or majority within society. Congress also believes that studies relating to equality groups are amongst those which are under increased threat.

Promoting LGB and T equality and diversity in the curriculum and in wider society, UCU's successful 'Becoming and Unbecoming' Conference held in 2008 brought together activist and academic researchers in broad areas of study pertaining to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people.

Congress calls on the NEC to

  1. organise a triennial conference on the same basis as 'Becoming and Unbecoming'
  2. develop an active programme promoting continued diversity in activist and academic study and against the normalising and minimising effects of both marketisation and cuts to funding.

CARRIED


Equality for black members (report paragraph 34)

79 The UK Uncapped Campaign  - National Executive Committee

Congress welcomes the joint union 'UK Uncapped' Campaign. Congress notes that the introduction of a more rigorous accreditation and inspection process and the other restrictive proposals  within the  points based immigration system will  have a deleterious impact on staff, students, and institutions across further, higher and adult education.  It will put additional pressure on lecturers and academic related staff to enforce immigration controls and thereby compromise staff's special relationship with  students. It will restrict students wishing to study at below degree level, including those wanting to study ESOL, English for Academic Purposes and Study Skills. It will result in a loss of income to institutions and thereby could lead to staff redundancies. Congress calls on NEC to ensure that issues relevant to staff across post-16 education are prominent in the UK Uncapped campaign.  

CARRIED


Equality for black members (report paragraph 35)

80 Black women and employment - Black members standing committee

A TUC report on Black Women and Employment found that women were more likely to suffer cultural stereotyping by employers resulting in them having to take jobs at a lower skills level than their qualifications.  The experiences of Black women workers in Further and Higher Education remain a significantly under researched area. The current economic climate and restructuring will undoubtedly have implications for all workers; the most negative effects, however, are likely to be impacted by Black and women workers.

Congress calls upon NEC to highlight the plight of Black women in Further and Higher Education and to take steps to ensure that employers improve the experiences of Black women by complying with anti-discrimination legislation, this should include examining the experiences of Black women in both sectors including, issues such as job security, disadvantages experienced in the workplace, career progression and under representation in senior positions.

CARRIED

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