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Taking action in higher education

Business of the equality committee

UCU Congress 2012: Saturday 9 June 2012, 14:00-15:40

Chapter 6 of the NEC's report to Congress 2012:
UCU314.html | UCU314.rtf

Motions:

16 - Save the Equality and Human Rights Commission
17 - Campaign against government cuts to equality legislation
18 - Austerity and equality
B13 - Safe streets

19 - Defend multiculturalism, oppose Islamophobia and racism - stop the EDL
20 - UCU Single Equality Scheme: review and focus of scheme
21 - Joint campaign against welfare cuts
22 - Mental health awareness and better support for mental health
23 - Disabled people's right to education
24 - Achieving disability equality in further and higher education
25 - Advancing LGBT equality though training and organising
26 - LGBT visibility and representation
27 - Abortion rights
28 - Women and the cuts
29 - Support, representation and involvement of black members
30 - Tackling racism
31 - Black workers and racism within post-16 education
32 - Sustainable working lives
33 - Retirement and age discrimination


The Equality Act  (report paragraph 2.1)

16 Save the Equality and Human Rights Commission - National Executive Committee

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is an independent body responsible for enforcing equality legislation and compliance with the Human Rights Act and it costs less than £1 a year per person.

The government plans to slash its budget by 68% which will mean

  1. reducing its legal enforcement ability
  2. losing half its workforce
  3. closing its Helpline to the public, business and the public sector
  4. losing its regional offices
  5. ending its grants to organisation supporting victims of discrimination and harassment.

At a time of unprecedented cuts that will hit the most vulnerable in society hardest we must save the EHRC.

Congress calls upon the NEC to:

  1. encourage members to sign the petition protesting against the cuts
  2. support the PCS in their defence of their members jobs
  3. highlight how the impact of the cuts to the EHRC will effect workers and communities

CARRIED


17 Campaign Against Government Cuts to Equality Legislation - National Executive Committee

Congress condemns the government decision to reduce the powers and remit of the Equality and Human Rights Commission to 'cut Red Tape'.

Congress believes that the right to not be discriminated against in employment, education etc. is not 'red tape' and that the proposed changes could lead to many of our members losing their jobs or experiencing (increased) discrimination, bullying and harassment.

Congress calls on UCU to join with other trade unions, NUS, community and campaigning organisations to prioritise a high profile campaign, which may include national and local demonstrations, lobby of parliament and media actions, for:

  1. The powers and remit of the EHRC to be maintained and its budget and other resources increased in order to make it more effective.
  2. Third Party Harassment Law to be retained, the Public Sector Equality Duty and Socio-Economic Duty and the 'wider recommendation' powers of employment tribunals to be retained.

CARRIED

Public sector duties (after report paragraph 3.4)

18 Austerity and equality - National Executive Committee

The onslaught against equalities is moving quickly. The welfare state is being dismantled at a rate of knots and most vulnerable in society hit the hardest. There is plenty of evidence that where there is more equality, societies fare better. We also know that in times of austerity excuses are made to cut back. We need to resist that argument and push hard not only to keep the gains we have made but to progress.

The same applies for our members. We need to be vigilant and not allow employers to bargain away equality gains in the workplace and or, to regress on equality in the curriculum and in the classroom.

To this aim Congress calls on the NEC to support and organise for a joint education TU event on progressing equality in education and in the workplace and to host this event in the autumn.

CARRIED


B13 Safe streets - South East retired members

Congress, concerned for the safety of all members of the community, including teachers and students and especially the vulnerable for whatever reason, deplores the plans of some local authorities to reduce expenditure on street lighting and pavement maintenance. Congress calls upon the NEC to take appropriate action to oppose these plans as a matter of urgency.

CARRIED

Campaigning for Equality (report paragraph 6.2)

19 Composite: Defend multiculturalism, oppose Islamophobia and racism - stop the EDL - Tower Hamlets College, Westminster University (Regent)

Congress notes:

  1. the positive role post-16 education plays in promoting multiculturalism.
  2. David Cameron's Munich speech claiming that 'multiculturalism had failed', which coincided with an EDL march in Luton.
  3. the bombing and massacre of 77 people in Norway in July 2011, an attack which targeted the labour party youth wing.
  4. the terrorist Anders Behring Breivik had links to the EDL.
  5. in September the EDL attempted to march on the East London Mosque in Tower Hamlets.
  6. the EDL were stopped by 10,000 people - mobilised by East End United and Unite Against Fascism.

Congress believes:

  1. the EDL is a racist and fascist organisation with links to the BNP.
  2. that united community campaigns of religious communities, trade unions, socialists and labour parties can defeat the EDL.

Congress resolves to:

  1. encourage members to support mobilisations against the EDL.
  2. organise an autumn conference to follow up on last year's successful 'Celebrate Diversity, Defend Multiculturalism, Oppose Islamophobia and Racism' conference.

CARRIED

UCU equality scheme (report paragraph 7.1)

20 UCU Single Equality Scheme: review and focus of scheme - National Executive Committee

In 2011, Congress received a report on UCU's equality scheme which noted key themes and priorities emerging from the scheme's many action points, and the need to review the scheme's steering committee. Congress resolved that scheme priorities which supported fighting cuts and redundancies must be supported.

Congress notes that the scheme is a positive development in progressing equality but the environment has changed dramatically, with Government openly attacking policies based on fairness and justice. Resisting cuts to jobs and services has rightly become the priority of branches and the focus of UCU's equality work.  

In this context, NEC is reviewing the scheme to focus it more on supporting branches through shared objectives which can be more effectively resourced.  All national and regional committees are being involved and a report will come to Congress 2013.

Congress endorses the review of the scheme and UCU's ongoing work on its priorities.

CARRIED

Equality for disabled members (report paragraph 8.2)

21 Joint campaign against welfare cuts - East Midlands retired members

This Congress recognises that the extension of working life that will be imposed by a rise in normal pension age poses threats to the health of UCU members that might propell them into an increasingly threatening benefits system. The Work Capability Assessment for the Employment Support Allowance has the effect of reducing help to the ill and disabled. The Government intends to abolish the Disability Living Allowance and replace it with a Personal Independence Payment that is intended to support far fewer people.

Congress requests the NEC, in conjunction with other unions and welfare groups, to oppose these erosions of the welfare system and to report back to Congress 2013 on the progress achieved.

CARRIED

Equality for disabled members (report paragraph 8.3)

22 Composite: Mental health awareness and better support for mental health - University of Lincoln, National Executive Committee

Congress notes

  1. the growing incidence of mental health issues in the current period of economic austerity
  2. the rise in workloads and performance management practices which exacerbate mental stress
  3. absences and a decline of productivity caused by mental health issues cost employers millions of pounds
  4. the full impact of mental illness is often hidden due to sufferers being unwilling to admit to their problems, a situation exacerbated by what many academic staff experience as punitive performance management and opaque decision making
  5. often problems take a long time for full recovery.

As many as one in four of us will suffer from mental illness at some point in our lifetime and, despite the common nature of the illness, the associated stigma makes it difficult for sufferers to receive support.

Work colleagues are often unaware of the difficulties faced by the victims of mental health problems. This isolation can make the illness worse. Evidence suggests that only 50% of sufferers will return to work after an absence of six months.

Congress calls on the NEC to:

  1. campaign for a raised awareness of mental health issues and promote awareness of mental health issues among branches and regions
  2. provide mental health training to branch health and safety, branch and equality representatives
  3. campaign alongside higher and further education institutions to take proactive measures on workplace mental health
  4. help all branches create a better, more supportive work environment for all staff and especially those suffering mental illness
  5. develop the UCU 1 in 4 briefing and workplace policies to include ongoing work adjustment where required for members with mental health issues, not just for the initial return to work.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

CBC advice to chair: if 22A.1 is passed, the first clause of 22A.2 (to amend third paragraph, beginning 'Work colleagues...'), falls.

22A.1 Disabled members standing committee

In point 4 delete sentence up to 'problems' and insert 'the impact of mental distress is often unknown due to the unwillingness to disclose' Then a full stop and new sentence.

Delete point 5

In second paragraph delete all after 'one in four' and insert 'will have mental health issues and the stigma associated with this impairment make it difficult to access support'

In third paragraph delete all after 'unaware of' and insert 'the impact of mental health impairments which increases isolation. Delete second sentence.

In point 'd' delete 'suffer mental illness' and insert 'with mental health impairments'.

22A.2 National Executive Committee

Under paragraph beginning: Work colleagues are often... To take out 'the victims of' and replace with 'people experiencing'.

FALLS

And, under point C to add at the end ' , including the annual mental health awareness week and the work by the Mental Health Foundation.'

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress notes

  1. the growing incidence of mental health issues in the current period of economic austerity
  2. the rise in workloads and performance management practices which exacerbate mental stress
  3. absences and a decline of productivity caused by mental health issues cost employers millions of pounds
  4. the impact of mental distress is often unknown due to the unwillingness to disclose.problems. A situation exacerbated by what many academic staff experience as punitive performance management and opaque decision making.

As many as one in four will have mental health issues and the stigma associated with this impairment make it difficult to access support.

Work colleagues are often unaware of the impact of mental health impairments which increases isolation.

Congress calls on the NEC to:

  1. campaign for a raised awareness of mental health issues and promote awareness of mental health issues among branches and regions
  2. provide mental health training to branch health and safety, branch and equality representatives
  3. campaign alongside higher and further education institutions to take proactive measures on workplace mental health, including the annual mental health awareness week and the work by the Mental Health Foundation
  4. help all branches create a better, more supportive work environment for all staff and especially those with mental health impairments
  5. develop the UCU 1 in 4 briefing and workplace policies to include ongoing work adjustment where required for members with mental health issues, not just for the initial return to work.

Equality for disabled members (after report paragraph 8.6)

23 Disabled people's right to education - Disabled members standing committee

Congress congratulates UCU in opposing the Governments education and welfare reform agenda which is eradicating not only the opportunity to be educated but the ability to work in education. This ideologically driven vicious agenda to make disabled workers and students disappear from our educational establishments at a time when disabled people face severe cuts to their living standards must be challenged and evidenced.

This Congress calls upon the NEC to work with the further and higher education sectors to produce a detailed briefing covering the impact of the cuts

  1. including changes to benefits including EMA on disabled students access to education
  2. on disabled members jobs in education including numbers affected
  3. in course provision including those that involve disabled workers such as British Sign Language.

Congress calls on the NEC to publicise the findings and find parliamentary opportunities to challenge the ConDem agenda.

CARRIED


24 Achieving disability equality in further and higher education - Disabled members standing committee

Congress notes that it is four years since the Commission for Disabled Staff in Lifelong Learning identified widespread institutional disability discrimination. However, the systemic failure to address the issue continues; the recent ECU report "Enabling equality: furthering disability equality for staff in HE" notes that practices disabled staff experience are discriminatory.  In addition, the Equality Act has significantly weakened the requirement to involve disabled staff just as it has diluted the duty to involve trade unions around gender, thus undermining the Commission's key emphatic finding that the active involvement of disabled staff is crucial to achieving equality.

Congress calls on UCU to work with sister trade unions and appropriate sector bodies to re-establish the post-Commission implementation body; to urgently reassess the Commission's findings and recommendations of subsequent reports in light of the current legislative landscape; and, critically, to ensure the active involvement of disabled UCU members in this process.

CARRIED

Equality for LGBT members (report paragraph 9)

25 Advancing LGBT equality through training and organising - LGBT members standing committee

Research undertaken by NUS and Skills Funding Agency (both 2011) demonstrate that LGBT people continue to have disproportionate levels of negative experience within education. Work needs to be undertaken at all levels within HE and FE to ensure that LGBT people are better supported, equality advanced, and discrimination tackled.

Congress understands that all UCU members and branches have a significant role to play in developing environments in our places of work that are more supportive and inclusive of LGBT people.

Congress calls on UCU to:

  1. provide specific training on advancing LGB and T equality for all equality officers and members interested in advancing these equality areas
  2. support regional initiatives aimed at developing sexual orientation and gender identity equality
  3. develop training materials for LGB and T equality that draw from recently produced research and training resources and in doing so ensure visibility of diversity of LGBT peoples.

CARRIED


26 LGBT visibility and representation - LGBT members standing committee

UCU is to be commended for putting equality at the heart of the Union and its democratic structures.

However, there is still a need to encompass diversity, within as well as between the L, G, B, and T communities.

Congress calls on UCU to support its members to be open about their sexual orientations and gender identities, and to promote awareness of LGBT contributions. EHRC in 2011 identified the lack of information about the LGBT community as the biggest data gap.

To meet these needs, Congress calls on UCU to:

  1. produce material to encourage the LGBT community to engage with data collection exercises including HESA, ECU, and the REF;
  2. record and publish statistics on the sexual orientation and gender identities of UCU's own membership;
  3. maintain a specific and separate LGBT Committee, annual meeting of LGBT members, and directly elected LGBT representatives on the NEC.

CARRIED

Equality for women members (report paragraph 10.3)

27 Abortion rights - Strode College

Congress notes:

  1. the government decision to strip abortion providers of their role in counselling patients and to allow pro-life organisations to offer pre-abortion advice in their place, despite MP's having voted decisively to reject the plans
  2. attempts by Nadine Dorries MP to bring in a sex education bill, focusing on abstinence programmes for girls only
  3. the increase of extreme right wing Christian groups who are opposed to women's right to choose
  4. the increase of militant pro-life groups who target clinics in major cities across the country
  5. these groups use intimidation tactics which include filming women entering and leaving clinics and haranguing them; causing great distress.
  6. abortion rights were won through a long struggle by women and pro - choice supporters.

Congress resolves:

  1. to continue joint campaigning with the NUS in colleges and Universities to raise awareness.
  2. to continue affiliation to Abortion Rights.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

27A.1 National Executive Committee:

To add under point 6:

7. national condemnation of the politically motivated spot checks on abortion providers by the Care Quality Commission, without any evidence to show malpractice and at a cost to taxpayers.

8. other pro-life groups, such as the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children have held curbside vigils.

9. the hugely successful counter demonstration by pro-choice supporters in March, held in Bedford Square.

10. the need for constant vigilance to maintain a woman's right to choose.

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress notes:

  • the government decision to strip abortion providers of their role in counselling patients and to allow pro-life organisations to offer pre-abortion advice in their place, despite MP's having voted decisively to reject the plans
  • attempts by Nadine Dorries MP to bring in a sex education bill, focusing on abstinence programmes for girls only
  • the increase of extreme right wing Christian groups who are opposed to women's right to choose
  • the increase of militant pro-life groups who target clinics in major cities across the country
  • these groups use intimidation tactics which include filming women entering and leaving clinics and haranguing them; causing great distress.
  • abortion rights were won through a long struggle by women and pro - choice supporters
  • national condemnation of the politically motivated spot checks on abortion providers by the Care Quality Commission, without any evidence to show malpractice and at a cost to taxpayers
  • other pro-life groups, such as the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children have held curbside vigils
  • the hugely successful counter demonstration by pro-choice supporters in March, held in Bedford Square
  • the need for constant vigilance to maintain a woman's right to choose.

Congress resolves:

  1. to continue joint campaigning with the NUS in colleges and Universities to raise awareness
  2. to continue affiliation to Abortion Rights.

Equality for women members (after report paragraph 10.6)

28 Composite: Women and the cuts - South West regional committee, Women members standing committee

Congress notes the overwhelming evidence that women bear the brunt of the cuts in public spending imposed as part of the government's austerity measures.

  1. For example: 40-50% of women's jobs are in the public sector. Some 500,000 jobs will be axed, affecting 325 000 women.
  2. Cuts in funding for mature students affect women disproportionately: 56% of students aged over 25 are women.

Congress believes that this state of affairs is utterly unacceptable. It threatens the hard won gains for gender equality achieved in the last century. Not only does growing inequality blight the lives of future generations of women, it also builds a society that is fundamentally unjust and unfair.

Congress resolves to instruct the NEC

  1. to monitor the impact of the cuts on women in the post 16 workforce and on the application and success rates of female students
  2. through the WMSC, to launch a rigorous campaign to highlight the pernicious gender inequality created by the cuts
  3. to combine with sister and student unions as part of that campaign, to resist the cuts and combat discrimination against women.
  4. to take vigorous steps to incorporate any gender related issues into campaigns and to take active steps to ensure that all campaigns related to the cuts and austerity measures are tailored to meet disparate impacts on the workforce and students.

CARRIED

Equality for black members (report paragraph 11.3)

29 Support, representation and involvement of black members - Black members standing committee

Congress notes the:

  1. Waddington Report findings on UCU Black members (BM);
  2. Problems faced by BM at work due to racial discrimination, harassment, bullying and victimisation;
  3. Absence of Black Officials within the Regions;
  4. Lack of financial support for BM involved in Employment Tribunal cases
  5. Lack of Black caseworkers;
  6. Exclusion of the BMSC from assisting BM on casework;
  7. Lack of Regional BM Networks;
  8. Disproportionate impact on Black workers from attacks and cuts in education.

Congress instructs the UCU to:

  1. Implement policies and strategies, including campaigns, training, networks, to increase the number of Black activists, caseworkers and officials;
  2. Provide increased support and representation for BM at work and employment tribunals;
  3. Involve the BMSC and Black caseworkers in supporting BM;
  4. Give the BMSC access to the email list of 7,500 BM;
  5. Monitor and report all grievances and complaints from B.

CARRIED

Equality for black members (report paragraph 11.4)

30 Tackling racism - Northern regional committee

Congress notes with concern the increasing racism evident in areas such as football.

The tragic murder of Stephen Lawrence led to a requirement for public bodies to take measures to address institutional racism. However we remain unconvinced that HE and FE establishments are fully addressing these areas. There is still under-representation of BME staff in our educational establishments. Many still regularly experience racism.

Congress calls on the NEC to:

  1. urgently produce an up to date report of the situation in FE/HE including staff data
  2. undertake educational work with antiracist organisations, to which UCU is affiliated, to address these areas
  3. ensure Black History month is celebrated in all UCU branches and produce a UCU poster
  4. revisit reasons of low involvement of black members within the UCU and increase the involvement of them, locally, regionally and nationally.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

30A.1 Northern regional committee

To delete full stop in first line and add ' , the police and the chilling 18% vote of the Front National (FN) in the recent first round of the French elections'.

To add a point 5 at the end of motion:

'5. encourage all UCU members to support demonstrations against the EDL'

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress notes with concern the increasing racism evident in areas such as football, the police and the chilling 18% vote of the Front National (FN) in the recent first round of the French elections.

The tragic murder of Stephen Lawrence led to a requirement for public bodies to take measures to address institutional racism. However we remain unconvinced that HE and FE establishments are fully addressing these areas. There is still under-representation of BME staff in our educational establishments. Many still regularly experience racism.

Congress calls on the NEC to:

  1. urgently produce an up to date report of the situation in FE/HE including staff data
  2. undertake educational work with antiracist organisations, to which UCU is affiliated, to address these areas
  3. ensure Black History month is celebrated in all UCU branches and produce a UCU poster
  4. revisit reasons of low involvement of black members within the UCU and increase the involvement of them, locally, regionally and nationally
  5. encourage all UCU members to support demonstrations against the EDL.

Equality for black members (report paragraph 11.5)

31 Black workers and racism within post-16 education - Black members standing committee

Congress notes the:

  1. high level of racism within post 16 Education and the low level of middle and senior Black managers in HE and FE
  2. concerns of Black staff on the barriers to training, support and promotion
  3. large number of Black staff subjected to harassment and bullying
  4. absence of support from experienced Black Officials, caseworkers and activists within the workplace and regions.

Congress instructs the UCU to:

  1. to review its commitment to combating racism and promoting racial equality in HE and FE and within the UCU structures at all levels;
  2. increase its support, representation and involvement of black members at work, within Branches/Associations, Regional Councils and Networks, the NEC and its Committees, Congress, UCU staff nationally in middle and senior management, on training courses, as case workers and in other UCU activities
  3. report on progress of the above at the 2013 Congress.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

31A.1 Women members standing committee

Add new point 4 and renumber:

4. The particular problems caused by multiple discrimination especially that faced by black women.

Add new point c and renumber:

c) identify new strategies to address the concerns facing black women.

Add at end:

e) to hold a national meeting/seminar for black women in 2012 to facilitate networking, organising and campaigning

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress notes the:

  1. high level of racism within post 16 Education and the low level of middle and senior Black managers in HE and FE
  2. concerns of Black staff on the barriers to training, support and promotion
  3. large number of Black staff subjected to harassment and bullying
  4. the particular problems caused by multiple discrimination especially that faced by black women
  5. absence of support from experienced Black Officials, caseworkers and activists within the workplace and regions.

Congress instructs the UCU to:

  1. to review its commitment to combating racism and promoting racial equality in HE and FE and within the UCU structures at all levels;
  2. increase its support, representation and involvement of black members at work, within Branches/Associations, Regional Councils and Networks, the NEC and its Committees, Congress, UCU staff nationally in middle and senior management, on training courses, as case workers and in other UCU activities
  3. identify new strategies to address the concerns facing black women
  4. report on progress of the above at the 2013 Congress
  5. to hold a national meeting/seminar for black women in 2012 to facilitate networking, organising and campaigning.

Age equality (report paragraph 12.1)

32 Sustainable working lives - National Executive Committee

Congress welcomes the inclusion of age equality within the Equality Act and notes that it has potential for making qualitative difference throughout all working lives.

With the removal of default retirement age it is crucial that a sustainable approach to working life is adopted, recognising people have different needs at different times. Flexible working, adjustable hours, and various forms of leave should be available to all; local versions of default retirement age, use of capability and performance management must be opposed. Developmental opportunities should be part of regular reviews of work.

UCU, LSIS, and ECU have developed a body of work, including research, guidance, and the international Leonardo project.

Congress calls for

  1. a reference group to develop a sustainable working lives agenda within post school education and oversee its implementation
  2. research into availability and take-up of measures supporting sustainable working life for all.

CARRIED AS AMENDED

32A.1 University of Bath

Add at end:

3 the development of national guidance for UCU branches and LAs on negotiating policies for sustainable working lives and flexible retirement

CARRIED

32A.2 Academic-related staff committee

Add new point at end:

3 an investigation into the effects on Academic-Related Staff of having to work unsocial hours and having to be on call-out at all hours or risk being first in line for redundancy or being over-looked for promotion.

CARRIED

SUBSTANTIVE MOTION

Congress welcomes the inclusion of age equality within the Equality Act and notes that it has potential for making qualitative difference throughout all working lives.

With the removal of default retirement age it is crucial that a sustainable approach to working life is adopted, recognising people have different needs at different times. Flexible working, adjustable hours, and various forms of leave should be available to all; local versions of default retirement age, use of capability and performance management must be opposed. Developmental opportunities should be part of regular reviews of work.

UCU, LSIS, and ECU have developed a body of work, including research, guidance, and the international Leonardo project.

Congress calls for

  1. a reference group to develop a sustainable working lives agenda within post school education and oversee its implementation
  2. research into availability and take-up of measures supporting sustainable working life for all
  3. the development of national guidance for UCU branches and LAs on negotiating policies for sustainable working lives and flexible retirement
  4. an investigation into the effects on Academic-Related Staff of having to work unsocial hours and having to be on call-out at all hours or risk being first in line for redundancy or being over-looked for promotion.

33 Retirement and age discrimination - South East regional committee

Congress recognises that the Equality Act 2010 permits direct discrimination in the workplace because of age, but only where such discrimination can be justified as a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Congress notes:

  1. the recent Supreme Court judgment in the case of Leslie Seldon; on the particular facts of the case, the Court accepted that staff retention and workforce planning could be legitimate aims of his firm's retirement rule, but referred back to the ET whether requiring Mr. Seldon to retire at 65 was proportionate.
  2. the rapidly growing number of ET claims of age discrimination relating to "retirement" dismissals of older workers;
  3. that a 'legitimate aim' and 'proportionate means' are being determined on a case-by-case basis.

Congress resolves:

  1. to detail and publicise older members' contribution to education, including their cumulative academic practice;
  2. to support older members in challenging arbitrary retirement rules, including through ET claims.

CARRIED

Last updated: 9 June 2012