Implementing the Race Relations (Amendment) Act

Back to all Motions

2002 National Black Members' Conference
8 November 2002
Carried as Amended

Conference welcomes the Race Relations (Amendment) Act which places greater duty and responsibility on public sector bodies to end discriminatory practices in employment, eliminate racial discrimination and promote race equality. Furthermore, Conference welcomes the commitment to developing codes of practice for relevant public bodies.

The Race Relations (Amendment) Act through the Commission for Racial Equality’s Code of Practice demands that employers in the public sector monitor their employment practices, such as recruitment and selection, monitor the make up of their workforce and where necessary to draw up effective plans to tackle under-representation of black employees. Employers have a duty to make public the outcome of their monitoring exercise.

Conference notes that trade unions do not fall within the scope of the current provisions. Conference welcomes the commitment of the TUC to adopting the provisions on a voluntary basis, and UNISON’s unqualified support for such an approach. Conference believes, however, that all employers, including trade unions, should be included in the legislation.

However, Conference is concerned that the new Act is not sufficient in its scope and believes that the Act is flawed in that:

1)The Government has confined the duties to eliminate unlawful racial discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and promote good race relations between people of different racial groups to public authorities;

2)The Government has not included private sector companies within the Act, and trade unions are also excluded;

3)The position of private companies delivering public services as a result of Best Value, PFI and PPP is not clear;

4)The lack of adequate and targeted resources and training will undermine the implementation of the new codes of practice.

Conference believes that UNISON branches have a key role to play in negotiating and developing the race equality schemes that are required by the Act and is concerned that unless branches are actively involved with employers in the process of developing action plans to combat institutional racism the implementation of the Act could become a tick box exercise.

Conference recognises that as a result of the European Race Directive the United Kingdom (UK) race relations legislation will have to be updated by 2003 to include the reversal of the burden of proof and the ability to take some form of representative actions. Conference is concerned that not all branches are aware of European equal rights legislation and how it relates to UK legislation.

Conference calls on the National Black Members’ Committee to work with the National Executive Council and service group executives to:

a)Investigate and report back to Conference on methods by which similar rights could be brought in to cover the private sector, without which there is a danger of creating a two-tier system of rights where public sector workers have better rights than those in the private sector;

b)Work with training providers within UNISON to:

i)Publicise to all its members the provision of the Act;

ii)Develop training material and programmes for all its members.

c)Campaign for the Government to:

i)Provide adequate funds to enable public sector employers to fulfil their obligations under the Act;

ii)Establish a minimum standards framework in order to provide a consistent approach in the way that the Act is applied;

iii)Extend the Race Relations (Amendment) Act to all employers regardless of the sector or number of employees in any new or revised race legislation;

d)That UNISON mounts a campaign, which should include the option of industrial action, which forces the private sector employer to adopt polices and procedures which mirror, the RR(A)A.