Recession must not lead to equality taking a back seat, says TUC

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date: Monday 9 February 2009

embargo: For immediate release

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber today (Monday) argued that the need for equality - offering fair chances, tackling inequality and unlocking the talents of everyone in our society - is greater than ever in a recession.

Speaking at the TUC Equality reps conference alongside Minister for Women and Equality Harriet Harman in London, Brendan Barber made the case for equality, and underlined how it can be achieved in workplaces across the UK by expanding the new network of equality reps.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'Some people say that during a severe recession equality should take a back seat - that when jobs are being lost and businesses are folding, equality is a luxury we somehow cannot afford.

'But they are wrong on every count. When times are tough, the need to encourage fair chances, to unlock the talents of everyone in our society, to tackle the gross inequality that lies at the heart of so many of our problems, is greater than ever.

'Our new network of equality reps is already helping to deliver equality in workplaces across the UK. By raising awareness on equality issues, bargaining with employers and advising colleagues whose needs are most acute, union reps are making a real difference to people's lives.

'But the network of equality reps is still a work in progress. We will continue to train more equality reps and we greatly appreciate the financial support we have received from Government to do this.

'Ultimately in order for equality reps to be fully effective, we want them to follow in the footsteps of our safety and learning reps and receive statutory rights.'

To date, the Government has made available £1.5 million worth of funding to support the development of equality representatives.

Minister for Women and Equality Harriet Harman said: 'Equality and an absence of discrimination are the hallmarks of a modern society, as well as important for the economy so that it can draw on the talents of all.

'This Government has listened and understands the changes that have been taking place in women's lives, in families, and in the workplace because of the current international economic downturn and because of more women going out to work.'


- The conference is being held today (Monday, 9 Feb 2009) from 10am-4pm at Congress House, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3LS.

- The conference will showcase the work of the TUC Equality Rep Project and highlight some of the pioneering work that equality reps are doing in the workplace.

- The conference will be attended by existing and potential equality reps, trade union tutors, union officers and anyone interested in the development of equality reps.

- A full copy of Brendan Barber's speech can be found at

- Register for the TUC's press extranet: a service exclusive to journalists wanting to access pre-embargo releases and reports from the TUC. Visit


Media enquiries:
Liz Chinchen T: 020 7467 1248 M: 07778 158175 E: [email protected]
Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: [email protected]
Elly Brenchley T: 020 7467 1337 M: 07900 910624 E: [email protected]

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