Tough climate for equality bargaining
Austerity and the poor state of the economy have created a tough climate for union negotiators, according to the latest TUC Equality Audit.
The Audit identifies instances where previously good policies and practices are being withdrawn in the face of cuts and a more hostile political climate. A number of unions said they had examples of flexible working arrangements being cut back in order to reduce costs or reasonable adjustments for disabled workers being removed or disabled workers being targeted in redundancy exercises.
Despite the challenges though, unions are still making progress.
For example, on equal pay, which remained the stand out equality issue for negotiators, half of the unions surveyed said they had secured agreement from employers to carry out equal pay audits and/or take steps to improve the pay of the lowest grades which are often predominantly female.
Given what’s happening elsewhere to the equality infrastructure, it is encouraging that unions are still able to make advances through collective bargaining in these difficult times. Unions must remain focused on their efforts to ensure proper representation and action to progress equality at work, as other sources of support are disappearing.