Developing our International Work

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2003 National Lesbian & Gay Conference
1 August 2003

Conference reaffirms its commitment to UNISON’s international work. Within the global economy, international co-operation and solidarity results in significant social, economic and political benefits for workers in the UK and abroad. Recent examples of successful co-operation with trade unions in other countries include:

·London Electricity’s reinstatement of recognition of UNISON at its Doxford site after nearly a decade of campaigning by workplace activists and recent lobbying of its parent company by French trade union, CGT (Confederation Generale du Travail).

·UNISON’s joint work with the Phillipines Nurse Association, TEHY (The Union of Health and Social Care Services) (Finland) and CCGO (Spain) to tackle the exploitation of overseas nurses within the NHS and other European health services.

Conference welcomes the continued close working of the NEC (National Executive Council) International Committee and the Self Organised Groups.

Conference believes that the National Lesbian and Gay Committee (NLGC) should continue to: to ensure lesbian and gay (L&G) rights are raised in all international forums in which UNISON works – L&G rights are human rights and trade union rights issues; to ensure trade unionism is raised in all L&G forums in which it works;

3. promote an internationalist perspective amongst the L&G self-organised group;

4. focus on achievable objectives that fit with the work of the wider union on international issues.

While Conference appreciates the increasing recognition of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) rights as core trade union issues, it is concerned that:

A. even though the European Union Employment Directive grants unions the formal status of social partners tackling discrimination across all grounds, some unions and internationals still limit their equality work to gender or gender and race;

B. the International Labour Organisation (ILO) discrimination in employment convention 111 makes no specific reference to age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status. Furthermore, the 2003 ILO Global Report ‘Time for Equality at Work’, made no mention of tackling discrimination against LGBT workers.

Conference therefore recognizes the need for work towards international union bodies to:

I.promote inclusive understanding of union equality responsibilities

II.propose policy and work on LGBT workers rights to the ILO and union internationals including the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, European Trades Union Congress and Federation of European Public Service Unions; towards the ILO to make mandatory its code on HIV/AIDS, which contains fundamental principles for policy development and practical guidelines.

Conference instructs the NLGC to:

a.continue to work in conjunction with the NEC International Committee and other Self Organised Groups to promote these objectives within the TUC and the international forums in which UNISON works;

b.follow up recommendations from the Workers Out! conference of LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) trade unionists on the establishment of an international LGBTI trade union forum by PSI (Public Services International) and EI (Education International).

Conference urges regional L&G groups to develop their own international work by:

i.affiliating to ILGA (International Lesbian and Gay Association);

ii.using the Amnesty International LGBT network to identify and participate in campaigns against persecution and torture.