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2012 National Women's Conference
8 February 2012

Conference notes with deep concern new research by UNISON on the disproportionate impact of public service cuts on Black workers. This research, conducted as part of UNISON’s Challenging Racism in the Workplace and piloted in Greater London in November- December 2011 and results of which were analysed in January 2012 showed that Black women working in Local Government were hit disproportionately hard by job losses.

Conference believes that this research shows that councils, facing some of the largest budget cuts in living memory by the Tory-led coalition, are shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country. The research’s initial findings show that it is women who are paying the greatest price, with Black women being hit disproportionately hard. The research reveals that in twelve London councils Black women are being disproportionately affected when jobs were lost, in one council by eighteen per cent.

With the biggest tranche of council job losses looming in 2012, Conference believes the findings of this research reveal a worrying picture of women paying a steep price for public service cuts with their jobs. Conference is further concerned that within this group, it is Black women who are facing the biggest disproportionate impact. The wider race equality impact of public service cuts is also underlined by the fact that in seventeen of the capital’s councils, Black workers as a group are being disproportionately hit by job losses – in some councils by as much as thirty two per cent. Conference believes that the pilot research is illustrative of the situation across the UK and welcomes the extension of the research to other regions in 2012.

Conference also welcomes further research being done by UNISON in partnership with the Runnymede Trust, the TUC and other trade unions on the wider equality impact of public service cuts and believes this will supplement the research being conducted on job losses in Local Authorities.

Conference believes these shocking findings underlines the importance of bargaining and negotiating for equality in the workplace and underlines the importance of branches engaging with UNISON’s ‘Challenging Racism in the Workplace’. It will enable UNISON to identify employers who tolerate racist discrimination within the workplace and use our collective power to bargain and negotiate for equality. Engaging in this work will enable real changes to be made for UNISON members.

Conference calls on the National Women’s Committee to work with the National Black members’ committee in order to:

1)Highlight the findings of the ongoing research throughout 2012, particularly the disproportionate impact of cuts on Black women members.

2)Engage with the wider research project being done in conjunction with the Runnymede Trust;

3)Ensure that branches are engaging with ‘challenging racism in the workplace’ and are accessing the new resources that have been produced on fighting cuts and negotiating for equality.