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Business of the equality committee

10:00am, Wednesday 27 May 2009

Introduction and single equality bill (paragraphs 1-3)

1 The economic recession and the equality agenda - Composite (Northumbria University, National Executive Committee)

Congress notes the danger that economic recession can be exploited to attack equal rights won by women and ethnic minority groups.

It notes with concern that job losses in the public sector, retail, hotels and catering may particularly affect women and minority ethnic groups.

Congress notes that job losses in the education sector will threaten access to and the quality of education.

It condemns any scapegoating of asylum seekers, ethnic minorities and women and any political propaganda that attempts to blame oppressed groups for the economic crisis.

It particularly opposes attempts by far right groups such as the British National Party to exploit and build upon low morale in communities and reaffirms UCU commitment to Unite Against Fascism.

Congress commits itself to vigilant defence of UCU's equality agenda and of equal rights achieved to date.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

1A.1 - Academic-related Committee

Add at end:

Furthermore, Congress believes that the government could do much to reduce inequality in wages and conditions by implementing the European directives on fixed-term, part-time and temporary (agency) work in the best interests of workers rather than employers, and by bringing in 'day one' employment rights for all workers. Congress requests the NEC to work with the TUC to bring about these changes before a new government seeks to reverse any improvements in employees' rights.

CARRIED

Substantive motion:

Congress notes the danger that economic recession can be exploited to attack equal rights won by women and ethnic minority groups.

It notes with concern that job losses in the public sector, retail, hotels and catering may particularly affect women and minority ethnic groups.

Congress notes that job losses in the education sector will threaten access to and the quality of education.

It condemns any scapegoating of asylum seekers, ethnic minorities and women and any political propaganda that attempts to blame oppressed groups for the economic crisis.

It particularly opposes attempts by far right groups such as the British National Party to exploit and build upon low morale in communities and reaffirms UCU commitment to Unite Against Fascism.

Congress commits itself to vigilant defence of UCU's equality agenda and of equal rights achieved to date.

Furthermore, Congress believes that the government could do much to reduce inequality in wages and conditions by implementing the European directives on fixed-term, part-time and temporary (agency) work in the best interests of workers rather than employers, and by bringing in 'day one' employment rights for all workers. Congress requests the NEC to work with the TUC to bring about these changes before a new government seeks to reverse any improvements in employees' rights.


2  Equality impact assessment - University of Manchester

This congress notes with concern that UCU has failed to challenge universities and colleges on the full impact assessment results on gender pay gap, race equality, LGBT, disabilities. After seven years, universities and colleges should not be allowed to simply publish statistics that are not backed up by positive actions. This congress therefore urges the national UCU executive committee to take the necessary steps to name and shame universities and colleges which have not been compliant with legislation. UCU should also empower regional offices and the legal service department to put the trade union ethos before the cost to set the milestones and to challenge discrimination, bullying and harassment.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

2A.1 - LGBT Members' Standing Committee

Delete: last two sentences (from 'positive action'.)

Add:

Research and resources have been produced about sexual orientation strands. Conducting impact assessments is useful in industrial relations bargaining. To support all branches in negotiating for equality implementation Congress calls for the Equality Unit to produce an all-inclusive resource and distribute it to all branches along with related training across regions open to all members.

CARRIED

2A.2 - National Executive Committee

Delete first sentence. Replace with:

'Congress notes the work UCU has done to promote the implementation of the race, gender and disability duties including the production of the comprehensive equality duties toolkit.

Congress notes with concern the lack of progress colleges and universities have made in implementing this legislation including impact assessments.'

Delete last sentence. Replace with:

'UCU Congress believes the full implementation of the public sector duties should be a key priority for the UCU Equality Unit and UCU regions.'

CARRIED

Substantive motion:

Congress notes the work UCU has done to promote the implementation of the race, gender and disability duties including the production of the comprehensive equality duties toolkit.

Congress notes with concern the lack of progress colleges and universities have made in implementing this legislation including impact assessments.

After seven years, universities and colleges should not be allowed to simply publish statistics that are not backed up by positive actions. Research and resources have been produced about sexual orientation strands. Conducting impact assessments is useful in industrial relations bargaining. To support all branches in negotiating for equality implementation Congress calls for the Equality Unit to produce an all-inclusive resource and distribute it to all branches along with related training across regions open to all members. 

UCU Congress believes the full implementation of the public sector duties should be a key priority for the UCU Equality Unit and UCU regions.


3  Defence of LGBT Equality - LGBT Members' Standing Committee

Congress notes that in recent years there have been challenges to LGBT anti-discrimination laws using alternative laws which uphold freedom of religious belief and practice.

Congress supports the free expression of religious belief but is adamant that 'Freedom of Religion' should never be hijacked and used as a pretext to discriminate against LGBT people, or used to erode or ignore LGBT anti-discrimination legislation.

Congress resolves to lobby the EHRC and the government to ensure that LGBT anti-discrimination legislation is maintained, protected and expanded without erroneous challenge based on freedom of religious belief and practice.

CARRIED


4  Anti-fascist campaigning - North West Regional Committee

Congress notes the success of the united anti-fascist movement in the UK relative to several other European countries in restricting the growth of fascist organisations. It is rightly proud of the role of UCU and its predecessors in initiating and supporting this united movement.

It notes, however, that the severe economic crisis and accompanying political turmoil provides unprecedented opportunities for the BNP to peddle nationalist and racist solutions and make serious political advances.

As the leading post-school educational union, we recognise our special responsibility in combating the growth of fascist ideas amongst young people.

Congress resolves to:

  1. continue to prioritise anti-fascist activity
  2. provide maximum encouragement to our members in this vital area
  3. work with the UAF, fellow trade unions, the NUS and other organisations to combat the threat from fascist organisations.

CARRIED


Disability (paragraphs 4-6)

5  Disabled people and welfare reform - Disabled Members' Standing Committee

Congress notes:

  • that disabled people are amongst the first casualties of the current economic crisis
  • this government's decision to coerce over a million disabled people into low paid, casualised work

Congress deplores the government's welfare reform agenda including the transfer of Job Centre plus employment services for disabled people to private, third sector and faith-based organisations, savage cuts in the Independent Living Fund and the continuing threat to remove Access to Work from disabled people working in the public sector.

Congress resolves to:

  1. continue our campaign against the privatisation of public services, including initiatives to support disabled people into work
  2. support the TUC lobby of parliament to protect access to work
  3. press the government to restore the entitlement to ILF funding to all disabled people
  4. support local and national campaigns to oppose attacks on services to disabled people.

CARRIED


Race (paragraphs 7-11)

6  Impact of redundancies/equality impact assessments/institutional racism - Black Members' Standing Committee

Congress notes with great concern that many HE/FE institutions have relegated the equality agenda to a set of online policies that do not demonstrate a proactive approach to good race equality relations. These institutions have failed to conduct an equality impact assessment of policies and procedures - that have had and continue to have a disproportionately adverse impact on black members - and continue to act in breach of the RRAA 2000, right under the noses of trade unions, HEFCE and the CEHR.

Congress calls for:

  • formal challenge of HE/FE institutions to conduct a full equality impact assessment of their policies and procedures as required and publish the results
  • UCU should name-shame institutions that fulfil/do not this particular statutory duty
  • institutions to recognise institutional racism and set targets for eliminating inequality in recruitment, restructuring, redundancies, unemployment, and career development on a regular basis.

CARRIED


7  Campaigning against anti-semitism - National Executive Committee

Congress agrees to instruct the NEC to:

  • produce a series of leaflets about the dangers of anti-semitism and holocaust denial on campus and distribute them to members
  • organise a one-day event about the dangers of anti-semitism in London in January 2010 to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day and repeat it at 3 other locations
  • to organise an event with other education unions on Holocaust Memorial Day each year subsequently, which both commemorates the different groups targeted by the Nazis and looks at how we can campaign against racism and fascism today
  • to organise a fringe meeting on anti-semitism at congress 2010
  • to work together with NUS and the other unions on this programme of work, as well as developing further campaigning activities.

CARRIED (UNAMENDED)

7A.1 - University College London

Add new first line:

'Congress notes with concern the rise of anti-semitism in the UK and resignations of UCU members apparently in connection with perceptions of institutional anti-semitism.

Add new final bullet point: 'To investigate the number of recent UCU resignations and the reasons for them, and to report its findings to next Congress.'

LOST


8  Secularism - National Executive Committee

Congress believes that universities and colleges should be predominantly secular in character, respecting the rights of those who practise a faith and those who do not:

  • they should make appropriate provision for religious observance by those staff and students who practise a faith, and they should provide secular space to respect the rights of those who do not
  • to be inclusive, university and college ceremonies and public events should be secular in form
  • equality auditing in respect of religion and belief should include checking that the rights of non-believers are respected.

Congress supports academic freedom and the advancement of science. This must include the right to challenge and debate religious beliefs and to prioritise scientific explanations in the teaching of science.

Congress supports a comprehensive equality agenda. It does not accept religious belief as a justification for sexist or heterosexist behaviour or discrimination against disabled people.

CARRIED


LGBT (paragraphs 12-15)

9  Equality Resources - LGBT Members' Standing Committee

Noting the publication Lesbian and Gay Rights at Work, the UCU sexual orientation equality checklist, and other sector resources, Congress calls upon the NEC to support branches and all regions to

  • ensure that these resources are disseminated
  • review the state of use in branches and regions, pro actively seeking opportunities to work with branches and institutions for the implementation of these
  • organise and deliver training on sexual orientation and gender identity open to all members, across all regions, and build regional networks to provide peer support to develop these equality areas
  • commission the production of a series of posters and events promoting LGBT people who are also black (BME) and/or disabled; plus accompanying resource packs which can be used during LGBT and Black History Months, the Holocaust Memorial Day, etc.

These should be made available to all branches and regions throughout the UK.

CARRIED


Age (paragraph 16)

10  Representation of the elderly - Northern Region Retired Members

Congress notes the governmental appointment of Joan Bakewell as the Voice of Older People as a non event as she does not share the life experience of the great majority of older people and thus is not able to adequately represent pensioners and older people as a whole throughout our nation. Consequently congress calls on UCU to seek the appointment of a parliamentary commissioner to represent the elderly.

CARRIED


Gender (paragraphs 17-19)

11  End violence against women - Women's Standing Committee

Congress notes:

The incidence of violence against women is on the increase in the UK.

Much of this violence is hidden and includes sexist bullying and harassment. This issue affects not just women members, but the student population as well. There are no specific work policies to deal with these problems. This issue tends to get little attention.

Congress resolves to:

  • affiliate to the End Violence Against Women organisation
  • formulate a model UCU policy, including impact assessment for sickness policies
  • formulate practical advice for branches/LAs
  • disseminate good practice
  • training for members.

CARRIED

11A.1 - Women Members' Standing Committee

In bullet point one, add at the end, 'and to Object'.

CARRIED

Substantive motion:

Congress notes:

The incidence of violence against women is on the increase in the UK.

Much of this violence is hidden and includes sexist bullying and harassment. This issue affects not just women members, but the student population as well. There are no specific work policies to deal with these problems. This issue tends to get little attention.

Congress resolves to:

  • affiliate to the End Violence Against Women organisation and to Object
  • formulate a model UCU policy, including impact assessment for sickness policies
  • formulate practical advice for branches/LAs
  • disseminate good practice
  • training for members.

Parental leave (new heading after paragraph 24)

12  Equality of parental leave rights - University of Aberdeen

Congress calls on the executive to call on government, funding bodies and universities to:

  1. ensure that uniform parental leave entitlement is provided, ensuring that leave can be taken without fear of adversely affecting career prospects/opportunities
  2. ensure that staff are entitled and encouraged to take the period of parental leave that best suits their family circumstances, without pressure relating to their workplace
  3. ensure funding is provided for contracts to be extended commensurate with the period of parental leave taken
  4. be pro-active in promoting workplace gender equality, implementing policies ahead of the minimum requirements of legislation
  5. and for wider recognition that parental leave is not merely a women's issue - fathers' rights should be highlighted and we seek the extension of male parental leave rights as a means of fostering genuine gender equality in all areas of life.

CARRIED