E-Equality Newsletter No 7 – February 2007

  • The New Union – remember to vote
  • Amicus Women’s Well-Being at Work Guide
  • Sexual Orientation Regulations – no exemption for Catholic adoption agencies
  • Sex and Power: who runs Britain? 2007
  • Equality Negotiators’ Guides and Strategy Surveys
  • Finance Sector Equal Pay Campaign
  • Equality and Discrimination Law News
  • Other News
  • Events

The New Union – remember to vote “YES”
The vote for the merger between Amicus and T&G to form the New Union is taking place this month. As Derek Simpson, General Secretary, explains “the merger of these two great unions will form the largest trade union this country has ever known with over 2 million members. This strength in numbers will be used to improve working conditions and wages, promote equality and campaign for international solidarity. Everyone has an interest in these issues and should vote “YES” in the ballot”. For more news about the merger.

Amicus new Negotiators’ Guide on Women’s Well-Being at Work
We have a new addition to the Amicus Negotiators’ Guides on equality issues focussing on Women’s Well-Being at Work. The Guide covers specific health and safety issues for women at work and information on how to negotiate policies in this area – these include sexual harassment, domestic violence and the menopause.

Siobhan Endean, Amicus Head of Equalities said “the issues covered in this guide impact on many women during their working lives and some of these issues are often overlooked, or are even invisible to employers. It is important that Amicus negotiates effective policies which are implemented properly to improve women’s experiences at work”. You can download a PDF copy of the guide or contact your Regional Officer or Office to order a copy in the post.

Sexual Orientation Regulations – no exemption for Catholic Adoption Agencies

Despite a vociferous campaign by religious organisations the cabinet has not backed down and there will be no exemption for Catholic adoption agencies for the new sexual orientation regulations. Under the legislation, due to come into force in April 2007, Catholic agencies (after a transitional period) will have to consider same sex couples as adopters or close down. This is a success for the trade union movement who were adamant that LGB people are entitled to the same rights and treatment as everyone in this country and led the way in lobbying the Government not to bow to the pressure of religious organisations. It is now important that there is no further delay in the implementation of the legislation which initially was due to come into force in October 2006. There is an E-Petition which calls on the Government to implement the legislation at the earliest point possible.

Sex and power: who runs Britain? 2007
Women are still missing out on senior positions, according the EOC annual survey, Sex and Power Who Runs Britain? 2007, which looked at the number of women in senior positions across the public and private sector. The statistics make depressing reading:

  • Just 10% of women are directors of FTSE 100 companies
  • Barely 20% are Members of Parliament
  • An extra two senior judges has increased women’s representation to a mere 10%

It is even worse for ethnic minority women with only two MPs and four directors of FTSE 100 directors. Some people would say that it is women’s choice not to be at the top of public and business life. But this is ignoring the barriers that women face which are stopping them achieving their full potential. These include the long hours’ culture, job segregation and sex discrimination. As Karen Cole, Amicus Research Officer (Equalities) commented “women have waited long enough for equal pay and to be recognised in public life. For instance, at this rate of progress, women will have to wait 200 years for equality in Parliament. This is simply not acceptable and is huge waste of women’s talents. Amicus now wants to see the strengthening of the equal pay, sex discrimination and flexible working legislation, together with statutory backing for equality representatives. We can no longer just sit and wait for action to be taken on a voluntary basis. It is necessary for women to be backed by stronger legislation if we are going to make a real change to women’s lives”.

We want to hear from you – survey on Negotiators’ Guide and Amicus Equalities Strategy
We now have a series of negotiators’ guides on equality and we would like to hear your views on them. Do you find them useful and easy to understand? Have you used them to give advice to members or negotiate with your employer? Are there any other equality issues that we should be covering in the guides? It will only take you a few minutes to complete and return the survey . Please e-mail to Karen Cole by Friday, 23 February 2007 . Also, it is not too late to respond to the survey in the Amicus Equalities Strategy if you have not done so already. Let us know your views which you can do by answering the questions at the end of the document and returning the form as indicated. You can also obtain a hard copy from Bridget Clemson or telephone 020 7420 8923.

STOP THE BNP – deliver Hope not Hate
A reminder that between 24 March and 8 April there will be a series of activities throughout the country to demonstrate clearly that Hope can triumph over Hate. There will be Days of Action in every local authority where the BNP poses a serious risk, when tens of thousands of leaflets or newspapers are delivered, community fun days, advice centres and even concerts. It is going to be a people’s fortnight. Searchlight is currently in discussions with political parties, trade unions, community organisations and local anti-fascist groups throughout the country and specific details of the activities will be announced shortly. In the meantime, if you want to add your support to the Anti-Fascist Fortnight, be put in touch with your local group or simply be kept informed of future events then please fill in the form quoting the Amicus e-equality newsletter. The campaign is looking for local political parties, trade union branches and community groups to sponsor the fortnight. The 2007 Anti-Fascist Fortnight will be the biggest show of community opposition to the BNP to date. Please give your support and get involved.

A Unite Against Fascism/Love Music Hate Racism Stop the BNP National Conference is being held on 17 February/ 9.30am-5pm at the TUC Conference Centre in London . The event will include debate and workshops. If you are a shop steward or representative contact your Regional Officer if you would like to attend.

Finance Sector Equal Pay Campaign – 8 companies now signed up to the women’s charter
The Amicus finance sector equal pay campaign is going from strength to strength. Following on from the launch of the Women’s Charter last June eight companies have signed the Charter to work jointly with Amicus to close the gender pay gap and improve the career prospects of women in the finance sector. Dave Fleming, the Finance Sector National Officer commented “this campaign is proving to be extremely successful and the response from the employers has exceeded our expectations. It is now important that action is taken and that the commitment by the employer on paper actually brings about results which makes a difference to the women who work in the finance sector”.

The companies that have signed the Charter are:-AXA, First Direct, RSA, HBOS, Legal and General, Lloyds TSB, Barclays and NAG.

Equality and Discrimination Law News
Test case on disability discrimination could benefit millions of unpaid carers. A case concerning the interpretation of the EU’s Equal Treatment Directive and its impact on UK disability discrimination legislation has been referred to the European Court of Justice – Attridge Law vs Coleman . The case is being supported by the Disability Rights Commission. Ms Coleman’s four year old son is disabled and although she is not disabled herself her lawyers and the DRC are arguing that the Directive protects her from unfair treatment by her employer because of her association with a disabled person. Associated discrimination is already agreed in cases of race and sexual orientation, but this is the first time associated disability discrimination will be considered by the ECJ. She claims that her employer created a hostile atmosphere and denied her flexible working which would have made it easier for her to look after her son which finally led her to leave the company’s employment. If a decision is made in Miss Coleman’s favour this could have a major impact on the rights at work for 6 million people who provide unpaid care in this country.

Disability Rights Commission launches new step-by-step guide

The DRC has launched a new step by step web guide which provides up-to-date and comprehensive advice on disability discrimination in the workplace. You can also get information and advice from the Amicus Negotiators’ Guide on Disability.

New Fines for minimum wage dodgers

The Government has introduced new fines aiming to clamp down on employers who don’t pay the minimum wage. Employers who do not meet the payment will now be fined £200 for every worker involved, could be subjected to criminal prosecutions, with a maximum fine of £5,000. The Government has taken action because thousands of firms were flouting the law and not paying the minimum wage, an exploitation that means that many workers are not receiving a living wage.

Other News

Pension’s Bill – positive for women
Women’s income retirement is only 57% of men’s, with only 30% of women reaching state pension age entitled to a full state pension, compared with 85% of men. This is set to change as, although none of the proposed measures in the Pension’s Bill are solely for women, the Bill will have a positive impact on women’s income in retirement. Of particular benefit to women will be:

  • Reducing the qualifying years for the Basic State Pension (BSP) to 30 by 2010 to replace the current 39 for women and 44 for men. This reform is predicted to increase the number of women receiving full state pension from 50% without reform to 75% by 2010.
  • Introduce positive weekly BSP and State Second Pension (S2P) credits for parents of children under 12 and carers who care for 20 or more hours for individuals in receipt of Disability Living and Attendance Allowance.
  • Reform and simplify the Second State Pension, including aligning parents and carers credits with the BSP. The affect of these reforms will be that a further 1 million people will be accruing S2P of which approximately 90% will be women.

Although, this is positive news for retired women of the future, it does not help the many women who are already retired and living on very low retirement incomes. You can write to your local MP to highlight their situation and call for action to be taken to improve state pension provision. A model letter is available on the National Pensioners Convention website .

Diverse workforces better for business

A survey by Jobcentre Plus has revealed that diverse workplaces attract more business and job applications. According to the research 56% of customers would be more likely to use a business they knew had a diverse workforce and 70% think it is important that employers have an equal opportunities policy in place. The survey also found that employees and customers think that employers should be doing more to improve the diversity of their workplace – in particular women, disabled, BME and older workers.

Rally on Agency and Migrant Workers – 28 th March – London
Amicus is organising a rally and lobby of Parliament on 28 March to protest against the exploitation of agency and migrant workers. The venue is Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate, Westminster SW1H 9NH, 11am – 4pm. Amicus members will be meeting with their MPs to demand that publicly funded construction projects like the Olympics use workers that are covered by union negotiated national agreements and are directly employed. If you would like to attend transport is being arranged free of charge by your Regional Office and you should get in touch with the Office or your Regional Officer. Contact details of your Regional Office. Watch out for more details of the rally.

Age Discrimination Course – Amicus Plymouth and Bristol Offices

An age discrimination one day course is being held at the Amicus Plymouth and Bristol Offices on 20 and 21 March 2007 respectively. This is a course that will be run by an experienced solicitor in the equality and discrimination law field. The course is aimed at experienced Amicus South West representatives and shop stewards and is designed to provide information on all the issues relating to the new legislation. There has been a big interest in this course, so if you want to attend please apply quickly. If necessary, depending on the take-up, further courses will be held so if you don’t get on the course this time, you will have a chance to attend a later one. Please contact your Regional Officer or Rebecca Whitwood or telephone 01275 370 000

London Region BME Committee Meeting

Are you an ethnic minority member in the London region who would like to get more involved in promoting race equality in the union? If so you can attend the Amicus London Region Black and Minority Ethnic Committee Meeting on 1 March at 10.30am at the Amicus Office in King Street , Covent Garden . If you would like to go along contact Penny Fisher or telephone 020 7780 4108.

North-West BME Weekend School

The Amicus North West region is hosting a weekend school for black and minority ethnic members in Blackpool on 23-25 February 2007. Accommodation will be provided free for delegates and their children. If you are a member living in this region contact Avril Ryding on or telephone 01704 546500, if you would like to attend.

Pride Events 2007

If you would like to find out more about the Pride events that are being held in 2007. Amicus will be supporting many of these events so if you would like to get involved in helping out with this please contact Bridget Clemson in the Equality Department who will put you in contact with the appropriate person in your region or telephone 0207 4208923.

Faith & Homophobia Conference 17th February 2007

There is a Faith & Homophobia Conference to be held in London on 17th February. The venue is Rich Mix, 35 – 47 Bethnal Green Road , London E1 6LA . Register on line for the conference and find out more details. There is a trade union reduced rate of £85.00 for union members which can be funded by your branch or self funded.

Work-Life Balance Seminar – Voluntary and Not for Profit Sector

If you are an Amicus member or representative working in the Voluntary and Not for Profit Sector you are invited to attend an Amicus work-life balance seminar in London on 14 February. The seminar will show you what work-life balance is about and how it can operate where you work. Lunch will be provided and the seminar is free of charge. For more details and a booking form contact Maureen German or telephone 020 7420 8978

Amicus Disability Champions

Are you interested in finding our more about becoming an Amicus Disability Champion and attending a training course? If so please see the Disability Champions website – or e-mail Dave Parr.

There are courses starting in Colchester from 22 February and Brighton from 2 March. Also, watch out for courses planned in Scotland , Ireland , Wales and the East of England.

If you would like receive the e-equality Newsletter on a regular basis please contact Bridget Clemson, Equalities, with your e-mail address to be added to our contact list.

Please feel free to circulate this bulletin to other Amicus representatives, shop stewards and members.

Karen Cole, Amicus Research Officer Equalities, would also be pleased to contacted 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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