NASUWT: Equality cuts give employers green light to discriminate

The Coalition Government’s decision to scrap equalities guidance for schools and colleges will leave teachers vulnerable to discrimination and harassment, the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, has argued today.

The NASUWT moved a motion at the TUC Congress in Brighton on the Government’s decision to scrap statutory codes of practice which set out school and colleges’ responsibilities for challenging discrimination under the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED).

This follows cuts to the budget and remit of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and attacks on workers’ rights which independent evidence shows are having a disproportionate impact on minority and marginalised groups.

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, said:

“This decision is yet another example of the failure of the Coalition Government to value and protect working people.

"Fairness, social justice and equality are at the heart of a civilised society.

“Scaling back vital provisions which help to prevent discrimination in the workplace will encourage victimisation and unfair treatment.

“The public sector equality duty had only been in place a month when the Coalition announced the review.

"What the Coalition ignores is that these provisions were introduced for a reason. They have produced not one scrap of evidence to justify their removal and have made the decision on the basis of their own irrational prejudices.

"The removal of these provisions will give employers the green light to discriminate."

Moving the motion, NASUWT President Paula Roe, said:

“Under the Coalition Government, women, young people and black and minority ethnic groups face the highest levels of unemployment for years, the gender pay gap is widening and there is evidence of increased homophobia and racism within our society.

“We must put pressure on the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to do everything within their power to make the codes of practice statutory, fight for their role so that it is not further reduced and we should continue to expose this Coalition Government’s weakness in tackling prejudice and discrimination and their blatant lack of care for vulnerable groups.”

ENDS

For further information please contact Lena Davies, NASUWT press officer, on 07867 392 746.

Notes to editors

The text of the motion is below

Public Sector Equality Duty Codes of Practice

Congress notes with extreme concern the Coalition Government’s decision not to proceed with the planned statutory Codes of Practice for the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED). Congress also notes the intention to review the PSED, including the general duty.

Congress deplores the Coalition Government’s ideologically driven obsession with ‘removing red tape’ which is really an attempt to deny protections for workers and vulnerable groups in society.

Congress asserts that statutory codes have a valuable role to play in ensuring that employers comply with their duties to eliminate unlawful discrimination and advance equality of opportunity.

Congress applauds the efforts of TUC affiliates in pressing for equality impact assessments to thwart attempts by the coalition to dilute workers’ rights.

Congress believes that the scrapping of statutory codes will significantly undermine the power of the Equality Act 2010 and moreover removes an important sanction for applying the law.

Congress calls on the TUC to mount a vigorous campaign against the Coalition Government’s relentless attacks on equalities by:

i exploring legal avenues to block attempts to water down the Equality Act 2010
ii campaigning for the publication of statutory codes of practice for the PSED
iii opposing cuts to the budget of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, its staffing and powers of statutory enforcement.
iv ensuring that the public sector unions are involved in the review of the PSED
v reinvigorating equality as a mainstream collective bargaining issue and providing guidance and advice to affiliates.