Challenging Indirect Discrimination

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2013 National Women's Conference
16 October 2012

This conference notes

The current Tory led coalition’s cuts to the public sector have had a significant impact on women working in the public sector.

The cuts Impact on the ability of women to remain in employment and those that do come under enormous pressure to over perform. Government ministers have openly said that if women choose to have a child that is their responsibility and should not be a burden on their employers. The threat to our terms and conditions in particular, policies on work life balance, health and well being along with equal opportunities cannot be ignored.

There have been instances of managers putting extra pressure on women and ignoring their caring responsibilities outside of work, making threats about job security without good reasons. Dignity at work policies state this practice is unacceptable, yet women feel fear about addressing this formally because of constant job insecurity within the public sector.

Women are under increasing pressure to be seen coming in to work often outside of core hours to manage an ever increasing work load. This is impacting upon the work life balance of these women. Although it is the responsibility of managers to be familiar with policies, more and more often it seems that managers are either not aware or are not making information available to staff, particularly female staff who may use them. Employers are required to make sure that equal opportunities policies are implemented in the workplace but there does not seem to be a system in place to assess this in practice. This has an adverse effect on our women members who juggle work pressure with home commitments.

The policies on equal opportunities and discrimination specific to women have been developed within the public sector to put hard fought for legislation in to practice.

It is imperative that the UNISON women are at the forefront of the defence and promotion of women’s rights. This conference calls on the national women’s committee to:

1)Continue to protect the right of women members and promote policies within the workplace to support the healthy work life balance for women members.

2)Work with regions and branches to produce materials to help ensure that policies are implemented which protect the working conditions of our women members.

3)Work with our representatives on the TUC Women’s Group to jointly work with the other trade unions to highlight the impact and extent of indirect discrimination.

4)Ask branches to work with employers to set up scrutiny panels to measure the effectiveness of policies which protect and support the right of women to work and develop within the workplace.