Bargaining on Equality

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2002 National Lesbian & Gay Conference
27 September 2002

Conference notes that one of the most significant developments during UNISON’s first ten years is how central equalities issues have become to nearly everything the union does and that the self-organised groups have been the main single factor to make this so and keep it so. However, their work is often poorly integrated with collective bargaining, especially at the local level, and is seldom covered adequately in recognition and facilities agreements.

Currently, there are significant opportunities to develop the whole range of UNISON’s work on equalities including:

1.The new public authority duties arising from the Race Relations (Amendment) Act;

2.The government initiative to encourage Equal Pay Reviews;

3.Forthcoming United Kingdom legislation following the European Union Race and Employment Directives; and

4.5.That 2003 is European Year of Disabled People.


However, there is also the risk that employers may take up these initiatives in ways which circumvent collective bargaining and marginalise unions. Already a number of employers have established their own staff forums on equality issues.

Conference calls on negotiators throughout the service group to ensure that recognition and facilities agreements take proper account of equalities issues and the work of UNISON’s self-organised groups.

In particular, it calls for national joint advice within part four of the Green Book.

Conference instructs the Service Group Executive to work with sector committees, forums and self-organised groups to ensure that negotiators are adequately briefed and that agreements are achieved throughout the service group which provide real rights and opportunities for members of UNISON’s self-organised groups.

Conference further notes the impact of the European Union Information and Consultation Directive upon industrial relations in the United Kingdom. It notes particularly that the directive requires information and consultation with a view to reaching agreement on decisions likely to lead to substantial changes in work organisation or in contractual relations. Conference considers that equalities issues fall within this definition. It therefore instructs the Service Group Executive, working, as appropriate, with the National Executive Council and in consultation with the self-organised groups, to campaign for UK implementing legislation and for collective agreements which are clear and sufficiently detailed with respect to equalities issues.