Challenging Discriminatory Practices, Defending Public Services

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2014 Local Government Service Group Conference
21 February 2014

Conference as well as forming a significant part of the public sector workforce Black people are also primary users of public services. Cuts to funding are closing services while putting significant pressure on those remaining staff, as well as community and voluntary organisations supporting Black people and other vulnerable communities at a time when they are needed the most.

We know that:

1)Since the recession started in 2008 there has been a declining rate of employment for Black workers and clear evidence of an ethnic penalty on employment for most Black groups.

2)Workers in local government are facing local attacks on unsocial hours payments, overtime and car allowances or transfer to term time or zero hours contracts.

3)The coalition government has undertaken a sustained attack on workers’ rights and attacked legislation promoting equality and fairness. And that the introduction of fees to bring cases to Employment Tribunal will mean that many low paid Black workers will not be able to afford justice.

4)Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 most monitoring information can be made available. And that as part of UNISON’s lead race equality work, Challenging Racism in the Workplace research in Local Authorities revealed that in 17 London councils. Black workers were disproportionately affected by redundancies. In one council, Black workers made up just 31% of the workforce but 63% of the redundancies. Additional research shows Black workers continue to experience discriminatory practices at various stages of employment from application to appointment, in promotions and with an over-representation in grievances and disciplinaries.

5)Challenging Racism in the Workplace must remain the focus on defending public services and fighting for Black members’ jobs and conditions of service. Using cohesive strategies to utilise information collated can challenge discriminatory practices on behalf of Black members and fight cuts to services affecting Black communities and all public sector workers.

6)Challenging discrimination and winning equality needs to continue to be at the heart of trade union work, every trade unionist, every UNISON member or activist has a duty to challenge discrimination wherever they see it.

Conference therefore calls on the Local Government Service Group to work with the National Black Members’ Committee to:

a)Continue to highlight the impact of cuts on Black members in the Service group’s anti-cuts campaign.

b)Encourage Local Government branches to use the ‘Challenging Racism in the Workplace’ toolkit and work with Regional Black Members Committees to support implementation.

c)Continue to use research as part of Challenging Racism in the workplace to monitor discriminatory employment practices in Local Government Service group sectors/employers that disadvantage Black people and implement actions to redress these practices.

d)And report back the findings through UNISON publications.