Promoting Lesbian and Gay Self Organisation within the Water and Environment Service Group

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2003 Water Service Group Conference
14 April 2003
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that one of UNISON’s stated objectives is to improve the flow of information to members.

Conference also notes that it is often those who are most vulnerable to discrimination from both employers and work colleagues who are the most difficult for us to reach by the ‘usual channels’.

Conference believes that there are particular issues around getting information on lesbian and gay rights to lesbian and gay members, because most lesbian and gay workers do not feel able to be open about their sexuality in the workplace and union. This is exacerbated by the fact that many water and Environment Agency members are agency workers and/or on temporary contracts, which increases their sense of vulnerability.

Conference welcomes the enormous strides that have been made by the service group working in close collaboration with the lesbian and gay self-organised group, which has seen a great increase in Water and Environment members’ involvement in lesbian and gay self-organisation and branches’ awareness of the issues. However, Conference notes that this started from such a low point that there is much work still to be done.

Conference therefore calls on the Water and Environment Service Group Executive to work with Energy Service Group Executive and Transport Service Group Executive via the Joint Business and Environment Equal Opportunities Group and all branches within the Water and Environment, Energy and Transport Service Group to:

1.Recognise that they have lesbian and gay members amongst their membership, even if they do not know who they are;

2.Recognise that they have a duty to these members to regularly publicise information on lesbian and gay groups in general branch mailings and newsletters, so members can access support without having to be open about their sexuality in the workplace;

3.Work with the National Lesbian and Gay Committee and Regional Lesbian and Gay groups to improve communication;

4.Create Lesbian and Gay branch officer posts;

5.Publicise widely the fact that in December 2003 employment law is changing to make it unlawful to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation;

6.Ensure all stewards are briefed and confident about these changes; and

7.Encourage more lesbian and gay members to train as stewards.