It is nearly 10 years since the TUC carried out its first audit of trade unions' equality structures and collective bargaining activities. Over that time we have seen some significant achievements in the workplace and steady improvements in how trade unions have responded to a more diverse workforce and membership.
This audit, which focuses on equality bargaining, covers three very difficult years from the beginning of 2009 to the beginning of 2012.
It is evident that in some workplaces unions have been on the defensive during this time, trying to protect earlier achievements and particularly vulnerable groups, whether it be ensuring redundancy and restructuring exercises do not wrongly target certain workers, reasonable adjustments remain in place for disabled workers or that flexible working is kept for parents and carers.
But it is encouraging to see that, even in these difficult times, there are still examples of unions successfully pushing to advance equality at work, for example, in getting employers to address women's low pay or carry out equal pay audits, achieving better than statutory pay for parents on maternity or paternity leave, agreeing policies to ensure better treatment of trans people at work, or getting agreement from some public sector employers on the unacceptability of far right or hate group membership.
As usual, the audit provides a rich source of examples of what can be achieved. I hope it informs and encourages unions in their collective efforts to secure more accessible and better work opportunities for all.
Issued: 19 September, 2012