Equality Committee Meeting Report – 12th October 2012

The committee welcomed Chris Nichols and Sharon Russell back.

Equality Act consultations.

A response on repealing third part harassment has gone to the government. Despite opposition the government is going ahead and the ‘Enterprise and Regulatory Reform’ bill will be heard this week. There is an opportunity for some opposition in the House of Lords and members are asked to write to their MP’s to oppose the bill and to any Lord when it reaches there. It was also noted that following the Beecroft report, Osborne and Pickles has issued a series of extreme ideas and many in the business committees are actually against. Please be vigilant on this and get in touch if you hear of anything locally.

Also noted that the PCS/Unite have a postcard campaign appealing against cuts to the EHRC. The ERHC will now be under the ‘Culture’ department, under the remit of Maria Miller. It was noted the report by the TUC: ‘Two Steps forward, one step back’ should be discussed at branch level. http://www.tuc.org.uk/equality/tuc-21425-f0.pdf

Runnymede Trust survey.

Information gathering on protected characteristics. Contributions have been low and the deadline is now extended to 16th November. Please ensure all branches complete and this information is crucial to progress with congress motions on tackling racism. Questionnaires sent out from head office. Any queries please contact Chris Nichols.

Summary of equality committee reports.

DMSC – Mental health working party is working with the equality challenge unit and UCU will soon publish a toolkit (2013) for branches to support members regarding mental health and will organise training for branch reps. Continuing campaigning against welfare cuts. LGBTSC – branch training continues. Gender identity project – hoping to feed this into the history month in Feb. BMSC – UK uncapped next meeting on 22nd Oct. The ECU will be hosting a meeting in Leeds on 8th November looking at developing networks. WMSC – Modern workplace government consultation – disappointment noted at the lack of commitment by government on supporting and developing maternity leave. It was noted that maternity leave and parental leave should be treated totally separately and there was a growing culture celebrating women who work during maternity leave/shorten maternity leave. UCU supports the work of Maternity Alliance. It was also noted recent statements by both Jeremy Hunt and Maria Miller on support to reduce abortion time limits down to 12 weeks and 20 weeks respectively and to remain vigilant on this. Equality challenge unit – amoungst other work have produced a report on mentoring: progressing women’s’ careers in higher education. It was noted at a recent North West women’s’ event, women UCU members want more mentoring in branch level on TU work.

Progress of congress motions.

Ongoing campaign work against cuts to the EHRC. Call to hold a conference with joint education TU’s – no discussion with other TU’s as yet. Plans for conference in the Spring of next year. Reminder about information on ‘reclaim the night’ events (November). Defend multiculturism conference – July 2013. More involvement of black members – (motion 29). A) CORT paper agreed by BMSC in July. B) motion rejected by SFC  e) ongoing and part of the development of CRM. Black workers (motion 31) – workshop for black women to be held at annual women’s conference (November).

An equality briefing will soon go out to branches from Sharon Russell with key campaigning issues and equality committee information.

Minutes of the joint (informal) meeting of the equalities committee was discussed.

Many found this meeting to be very helpful and inclusive and the list of recommendations to be taken forward. It was suggested that there should be an equality committee observer at ROCC. Also suggested was an up to date equality health check for branches and include how well are employers incorporating equality issues in local negotiations (also are equality reps part of negotiating teams).

Holocaust memorial day.

A short film will go onto the national website to encourage organising local events. On 13th Jan the NUT will be hosting an event.

Congress 2012: equality monitoring and feedback.

It was discussed what the purpose of monitoring was for in order to develop questions better. There were 2 parts to the monitoring 1) on registration – over 100 members did not complete this. 2) Congress evaluation. It was noted the extremely low turnout and representation on the platform of BME members. Suggestions: ROCC will consider this and report back at next meeting. To develop a ‘survival guide’ for black members. There was a discussion on an appendix to this report entitled ‘feedback on bullying behaviour at congress’ It was noted that some assumptions of the origins of the heckling was down to UCU left members. It was pointed out that there was no evidence to support this and the committee could not accept comments on individuals who were not able to defend/refute the allegations. There was some discussion on definitions of heckling and when heckling becomes barracking and what was heckling or just disappointment on decisions.  It was agreed that a code of behaviour for delegates will be drafted by the conference arrangement committee and the stress and bullying working group.

Verbal feedback from members on the Commission on Union Democracy and the NEC Working Group.

There is no formal cross over between the 2 groups as yet. There followed a discussion which included the time frame to allow branches/regions to submit motions to next year’s congress. The commission will soon be releasing an online survey for members and will report back in February. The NEC sub group will report back to the NEC.

Communication protocol between members on the various equality committees was agreed and will go to the NEC.

A survey on regional networks will go out to members soon.

A reminder on the upcoming annual conferences, open to all members. Information available on the equality section of the main website.

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