Sunday, 9 November 2008

Concepts in a Single Equality Act

Colleagues,

I spent this weekend with a group of TU activists and officers who were attending the GFTU's Advanced Course in Bedford.

As usual a core part of the course was delivered by Rebecca Tuck and Betsan Criddle of Old Square Chambers. You can review their profiles at http://www.oldsquare.co.uk/.

A particular focus of the course was a review of recent developments in a range of employment law areas including discrimination.

As part of this focus there was some discussion on what specific concepts would drive the drafting of the proposed single equality act. There has been some useful material produced by a UK human rights organisation, Justice which can be seen at: http://www.justice.org.uk/publications/listofpublications/index.html

The government has, with the drafing of the Act, an opportunity to clear up a number of anomalies that currently frustrate the work of officers and activists for example in the interpretation of aspects of the DDA. But will they?

Can I ask for some feedback on what, from your TU perspective, the new Act should attempt to identify as the fundamental concepts within the new legislation?

Cheers

Ian

4 comments:

TGWU Rep said...

Not sure what you mean by 'concepts' here.

I think from my position though I'd welcome an opportunity to more broadly link mistreatment that occurs and leads to stress-related injury and protection from that discrimination on that basis.

For example, regardless of whether you are male/female, black/white if poor treatment in the workplace = stress = sickness = disciplinary action on the part of the employer, it should be easier to threaten the employer with the idea of a discriminatory act beacuse it is the employer that has caused the sickness in the first place.

I also think that we have a chance to knock on the head the view by largely male, white members that equality law does nothing for them.

If we can develop a general idea (or concept to use your phrase) of fair treatment I can see this kind of member being happier.

When's the new act in?

Ian Manborde said...

Thanks for that.

We did actually have a colleague from the GMB make that similar point about stress and bullying/harassment.

I am not quite sure how it would work in terms of the legislation but know from my work that this is is significant issue for reps across the UK regardless of the union and sector.

I agree fully with your latter comments and had hoped that the age regs would do something about this attitude. Sadly, in my experience this hasn't been the case. So, as you say, let's hope there is some positive advantage here from the new act.

On the final question I don't know. Will try and find out and put a note on the blog.

Thanks for the feedback.

Ian

Peter said...

Ian,

Looking at this from outside the UK I am very interested in the extent to which the Human Rights Act might create the 'floor' for the new act.

Do you know if this will be the case?

From my experience it would be better to create a concept, as your previous person said, of the notion of dignity of the indiviual and afford them inalienable rights to freedom from harassment etc.

I understand that this might create more member cases to be resolved but in turn it might reduce employer mistreatment, neglect etc.

I welcome your feedback.

Many thanks

Peter

PS I see you had some senior Nigerian trade union offcials from Nigeria at Ruskin - how did this go?

Ian Manborde said...

Hi Peter,

Many thanks for your response to the posted item.

Although I fully agree with your sentiment as to a defining concept around the notion of the dignity of the individual the information we has on the weekend course from Rebecca Tuck suggested a different approach.

Her view was that the existing focus on status e.g. sex, race, age etc would probably stay but that the variation between the existing statutes would go in order to provide similar approaches to pursuing a case.

In relation to the Nigerian delegation, which also included state and regional government officers, the sessions seemed to go OK. It was too short a visit to assess in-depth the similarities/differences between Nigeria and the UK/EU but it was good in any case to meet and discuss with the Nigerian TU people what was happening on the ground in Nigeria.

Many thanks again Peter for the reply and hope to hear from you soon.

Best wishes

Ian