Winning equality is at the heart of our cause to change the world of work for good. That’s why the TUC’s annual equality audit matters. It helps us track our collective progress and spurs us on to do even better.
This year marks the TUC’s 150th birthday and is a chance to celebrate equalities victories we have won through our history.
Fifty years ago the Dagenham and Halewood Ford women’s strikes led to the introduction of the 1970 Equal Pay Act.For the first time, employers had to treat men and women who were doing the same job equally in their pay and conditions. Thanks to unions, millions of working women won the right to equal pay for the first time.
It is also 50 years since the Race Relations Act, which the TUC and unions campaigned for.
But let’s remember that sometimes we had to fight on two fronts. Racist attitudes and discrimination in the 1950s were not confined to the bosses. We also had to overcome prejudice within our own ranks and across wider society. The 1963 Bristol bus boycott and ‘colour bars’ in nursing are also part of our equalities history.
Tackling the root causes of discrimination, strengthening membership and spreading collective bargaining all go hand-in-hand, and are as urgent today as ever.
Our equality audits are not just a paper exercise. They shine a light on union action on equality – recognising the progress we have won together but also what more we need to do to make real change in the workplace.
This year’s report showcases practical examples of how unions are working hard to achieve equality. It highlights union action to combat all forms of harassment, discrimination and prejudice within union structures and as employers. We report on important areas of real progress. For example, nearly all union members are now protected by robust rules or procedures on harassment and discrimination. And the number of unions now offering training specifically aimed at BME, LGBT+, disabled and young workers continues to grow.
But the audit also highlights where more work is still needed. We need to boost equality monitoring, for example.And while there have been some breakthroughs, it is still the case that women, BME workers and young workers are under-represented in union positions. Let’s redouble our efforts to offer personal encouragement and practical support so that leadership at every level of our movement looks more like the workforce we champion. We know there is real strength through diversity.
I hope unions will use this audit as a tool to benchmark how far they have come, but also to identify new challenges and priorities. We should all be proud of how much unions have achieved. But we are not content. We aim to win that New Deal for all working people.Let’s get to it.
TUC General Secretary