Calling for equality reps to have statutory rights at the TUC in Brighton, Unite assistant general secretary, Diana Holland, said unions must ensure that the equalities agenda is not reduced to the “struggle against moving backwards”.
Moving the Equality 2020 motion, Holland said: “The Equality Act 2010 was a major milestone on the road to equality. It wasn’t just handed to us on a plate. It was driven by the commitment to stop and prevent harassment, discrimination and unfair pay, the commitment to advance equality for all. It was achieved through collective organisation and struggle – with trade unions and the TUC united and right at the heart of the powerful alliance we built with Labour in government.
“Ten years on, in these difficult, dangerous and divisive times, we need to take stock, to evaluate our achievements, and to rebuild that unified alliance. So we can complete the unfinished business from 2010, and defeat the forces raised against us, forces actively promoting division, discrimination, exploitation and hatred.”
Referencing attacks on the Equality Act by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalitions, Holland said its protections had been watered down.
“Congress, the daily horrifying revelations of harassment, discrimination and unequal pay and the ferocious attacks on equality must not be allowed to undermine our achievements and our courage. We cannot let the Equalities Agenda be reduced to “the struggle against moving backwards!” There is so much more to do. We need to be moving forward again,” Holland said.
‘We need to bulldozer down all the barriers to equality we still face, including class discrimination as our General Secretary so powerfully said earlier. And we need to end the second class status of union equality reps.”
Holland also called for mandatory equality audits with full action to close equality pay and pension gaps to ensure fair, transparent pay and pensions for all.
She added, “Finally, we need the powerful diverse voices of our General Council, and TUC Women’s, Black workers, Disabled workers LGBT+ and Young workers activists to challenge the myths about who trade unionists are, and to build our movement.
“No worker should be made to feel like an outsider in our movement. Our New Deal is for ALL. We’ve waited long enough. Now is the time for Unity, Equality, Trade union rights and Solidarity.”