Tri-borough, what next for Local Government and Equality Duty

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2014 Local Government Service Group Conference
19 February 2014

The tri-borough initiative across Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea has seen a massive reduction in the workforce, despite saving numbers of front-line jobs under section 113.

The sovereign Councils are now looking at discussion to harmonise the workforce in what we know will be an attack on our conditions of service and a battle to defend our local terms and conditions and sovereignty as a union local government branch.

The implications for local democracy and those that depend on vital public services are at risk. Despite local community and trade union campaigning, libraries, youth services, leisure facilities, children family centres and other services are being closed or funding cut in the name of austerity.

Public sector jobs are being increasingly outsourced and our members’ confidence in the trade union defending these services is at an all-time low as significant pressure on the remaining workforce, community and voluntary organisations supporting vulnerable people continue, we must ask ourselves, what next for local government?

The office of national statistics (2012) reported that Zero hour contracts had reached the 200,000 mark with 23% of employers having it as one of their employment contract options, which will affect employments rights so vigorously fought for by the trade unions.

However it is not just the lowest paid who are feeling the squeeze, but those in professional and technical jobs who are being paid less than their private sector counterparts.

UNISON’s recent freedom of information research confirmed the highly disproportionate attacks on women and Black workers and the over-representation in disciplinary, capability and redundancies.

The removal of Equality Impact Assessments, an over-representation in disciplinary procedures resulting in dismissals the impact on Black workers, especially is unprecedented.

Challenging discrimination and winning equality needs to continue to be at the heart of our trade union work, every trade unionist, every UNISON member and activist has a duty to challenge inequality and discrimination wherever they see it. UNISON has a responsibility to lead the way through our campaigning, bargaining agenda and labour movement.

We call on the Service Group Executive to:

1)Continue to work with the NEC to highlight UNISON’s anti-cuts campaign.

2)Monitor and review the Equality Strategy across local government and report back its findings with clear aims and objectives to tackle this issue.

3) Encourage local government branches to use the ‘making equality happens’ initiative and work within regions to develop and support implementing this programme.

4)Ensure that resources are made available to local branches negotiating to save terms and conditions and that the tri-borough initiative is monitored vigorously and support given when needed to defend local government jobs and services.

5)Explore with the NEC a renewed approach and campaign to save local government.