Congress pays tribute to our movement’s local reps who are on the frontline defending workers’ rights, conditions, and safety. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic reps have played a key role supporting workers and are for many the first and main point of contact with the trade union.
Congress is determined to ensure that the searing existing inequalities exposed and deepened by the Covid-19 pandemic are not just revealed and measured, but actively tackled across all trade union activities.
Our reps are also absolutely critical for organising and building the union at the workplace. They are the lifeblood of our unions.
From ending pregnancy discrimination to ensuring progression of Black workers, from reasonable adjustments for those with long covid to sexual harassment procedures also recognising LGBT+ workers, unions need knowledge, skills, understanding, diverse involvement, paid time off and facilities. We need major change for unions to have a deep, effective, long-lasting impact on ending inequalities faced by women, Black and Asian ethnic minority, disabled and LGBT+ workers.
In the same way as union safety representatives transformed action on health and safety at work in the 1970s, so in the 2020s we need that same transformation to action on equality at work – strengthening and embedding the role of union equality representatives across workplaces and sectors and putting their rights to paid time off and facilities on an equal basis and a statutory footing.
Congress notes that it is exactly because reps are so important and successful to sustaining the unions that they are under increasing attack from employers. This can range to various forms of victimisation and outright dismissal on spurious grounds.
Congress welcomes the support and briefings that the TUC provides for reps and believes the attack on reps is an issue we must seek to face together wherever possible.
Congress therefore calls on the General Council with the TUC Women’s, Black Workers, Disabled Workers and LGBT+ Committees and affiliate unions to:
i. act now to strengthen the role of union equality representatives through promoting negotiations for paid time off and facilities including access to union education
ii. intensify the campaign for fair and equal statutory rights for union equality representatives
iii. campaign for changes in the law to not only substantially increase the protections afforded to reps but also to increase the rights and powers of reps at the workplace
iv. develop a training framework so that union equality reps, including women’s advocates providing support to women facing violence and harassment and disability champions can be given the appropriate training and support by the TUC and affiliates to carry out their duties to a high standard and promote equality in every workplace
v. hold an event specifically on this issue to ensure that we coordinate information, campaigning and other responses, including coordinated industrial action
vi. name and shame bad employers – create and maintain a searchable database, accessible to all affiliates, of employers who attack reps, industrial disputes and strikes, by employer, union and location
v. report progress on this item to affiliates.
Seconder: National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers
Supporter: Royal College of Podiatry