STUC condemns UK Government attack on equality

May 15th 2012

Responding to the announcement from the Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Theresa May MP, on the Government’s intention to further weaken equality legislation in this country and to review again the funding allocated to the Equality and Human Rights Commission Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) General Secretary Grahame Smith said

“The Equality Act 2010 was barely on the statute book before the Government announced it was under review. Apparently the review, conducted through the Red Tape Challenge website, without sound evidence or scrutiny, has concluded that the costs of seeking to achieve equality in the workplace are too high.

“Theresa May proposes to reduce the effectiveness of the Public Sector Duty, just as the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government are taking forward the regulations to implement the duties in Scotland. The STUC has worked with the Scottish Government to improve requirements on public bodies to meet their responsibilities on tackling inequality, and that is the path we should continue to take.

“Employment tribunal powers are being systematically weakened. Today’s announcement would remove the option for Employment Tribunals to recommend changes in workplaces, where an employer has been found guilty of discrimination against an employee.

“The STUC is also concerned about the proposal to repeal Third Party Harassment Law and remove responsibility from employers to ensure a safe working environment. All employees, men and women, should be able to carry out their work without fear of abuse.

“On Monday this week the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published a report which illustrated how the Coalition Government had not taken heed of its own obligations under the Public Sector Duty and equality legislation. For many already experiencing disadvantage, the 2010 Spending Review decisions only made their situation worse.

“The STUC condemns the statements from the Government today, which will only serve to create further division and discrimination.”

Margaret Boyd, Chair STUC Women’s Committee,

“The STUC, the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Government, the Fawcett Society, the Parliament’s own library and research services, all know that the costs of austerity and the recession are being borne disproportionately by women.

“The Equality legislation required employers to give information on equal pay and pay policy, essential to our members who still are fighting for justice. This will now be removed.

“Removing equality legal protection, and further reducing resources of the EHRC, only reminds us where the Government’s priorities lie"

ENDS

NOTES

  1. EHRC Report on impact of Treasury decisions (Spending Review 2010) on protected groups http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/legal-and-policy/inquiries-and-assessments/section-31-assessment-of-hm-treasury

  2. Fawcett Society http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk

For further information contact Ann Henderson For further information contact Ann Henderson 07875 208 167

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