LGBT rights and national collective agreements

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2014 National LGBT Conference
31 July 2014

Conference is concerned at increasing pressure to move away from nationally agreed terms and conditions. These hard fought-for protections represent years of negotiation by many valued trade unionists, who worked tirelessly so future generations could be treated with dignity, equality and respect. Conference will forever be thankful to them.

These national collective bargaining and pay determination agreements are under attack from the Tory-led government. They wish to remove the agreements that prevent them and their business friends from providing poverty pay and no holiday or sick leave. Threats of regional pay bargaining are just the tip of the iceberg. Local talks, taking workplaces away from these agreements, threaten to damage the trade union movement’s historic achievements, including equality rights. Workplace lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights began in those same smoke-filled negotiating rooms that these national agreements hailed from. Unlike those smoky rooms, we must not let them become a distant memory – we will fight to preserve and build on them.

Conference recognises that many workplaces, particularly in the community and private sectors, are not covered by national agreements, but they do gain from them. Nationally agreed pay helps push up local pay rates and nationally agreed workplace equality rights helped lay the foundations for LGBT workplace laws.

Conference notes the challenges of collective bargaining in the community sector which has numerous small employers, with members attached to local government or health branches. There are similar issues in the privatised transport sector, which hinders the union’s ability to negotiate robust equality policies. Many private employers mistakenly believe they do not need to deliver on the Equality Act 2010, nor put in place equality strategies. However successful examples include Barnardo’s, Action for Children and some housing association branches which negotiate nationally. The growth in regional community branches presents further opportunities to develop collective bargaining. We continue to push our equality agenda with private sector employers.

Conference reasserts the principle that collective bargaining is the cornerstone of our political, organising and industrial strategies. Conference further believes that nationally agreed terms and conditions set a framework for us all, assist in the advancement of LGBT workplace rights and must be protected and built upon. Conference notes that our negotiating strength depends on our density and workplace organisation, across our diverse workplaces.

Conference calls upon the national LGBT committee to:

1)Work with the National Executive Council and service groups in challenging attacks on national bargaining agreements;

2)Raise regional and branch groups’ awareness of the value of collective bargaining, including to LGBT workers;

3)Support and publicise campaigns to protect these negotiating agreements;

4)Support moves to entrench collective bargaining in community, voluntary and private workplaces and the LGBT bargaining rights these bring;

5)Increase our efforts to build our workplace density and organisation, to support this work.