Equality

In 2008, UNITE members at Fujitsu Manchester elected Equality Reps for the first time, as part of the unionís efforts to ensure everyone is treated fairly, with dignity and respect. Our Equality Reps have produced this short introduction to the subject and their role.
What is equality?
Many people are unaware what equality stands for and how it affects every single one of us. For example, people are sometimes unaware that they are bullying others in the workplace or in fact that they are themselves being bullied.
Below is an explanation of what equality means:
Every worker should be entitled to equality of opportunity and to make the best use of their skills and talents regardless of their age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, identity, ethnic or national origin, marital status or religion.
Discrimination happens when an employer treats one employee less favourably (equally) than others. In this country there are laws against discrimination because of gender, marital status, gender reassignment, pregnancy, sexual orientation, disability, race, colour, ethnic background, nationality, religion or belief, age, trade union membership and trade union activity.
Direct discrimination: When an individual is treated less favourably than another because of, for example, their gender or race (so it would be direct discrimination if a driving job was only open to male applicants). There is no defence for direct discrimination.
Indirect discrimination: When a condition that disadvantages one group of people more than another is applied, unless it can be objectively justified. For example, saying that applicants for a job must be clean-shaven puts members of some religious groups at a disadvantage. However the law does allow employers to discriminate indirectly if they can show a good reason for having the condition. For example, the condition that applicants must be clean shaven might be justified if the job involved handling food and if it could be shown that having a beard or moustache was a genuine hygiene risk.
Harassment: Unwanted conduct that violates a personís dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. Victimisation means treating somebody less favourably than others because they tried to make a complaint (e.g. of discrimination).
Bullying: This is not just an issue in childhood. At least 1 in 4 of us will be bullied at some point during our working lives. “Bullying at work is rarely about blatant physical violence but it is psychological violence. It is a subtle and hidden process typified by small events and persistent harassment.” [Anti-bullying campaigner Matt Witheridge, speaking at an Amicus TUC fringe meeting].
One definition of bullying is:
Persistent, offensive, abusive, intimidating or insulting behaviour, abuse of power or unfair penal sanctions which makes the recipient feel upset, threatened, humiliated or vulnerable, which undermines their self-confidence and which may cause them to suffer stress.
Age Discrimination: Regulations came into force on 1 October 2006 and it is now unlawful for employers to discriminate against someone at work on the basis of their age, unless it can be objectively justified.
Policies: Fujitsu Services does have a Harassment Policy, an Equal Opportunities Policy, and a Valuing Diversity & Inclusion Policy, all of which are available from the Human Resources community on Cafe VIK, and there are other policies which cover equality in other areas.
In addition, staff in the UNITE Manchester bargaining unit benefit from the Equal Opportunities section of our recognition agreement, which goes further than the standard company policies.
Equality Reps: Developing fairness and equality in the workplace are key priorities for UNITE. Equality Reps campaign for equality and dignity at work and keep members informed about equality issues and legislation. Equality Reps receive fully accredited training from the union. Currently we have two Equality Reps here Ė Isabel Hay and Teresa Meyer. If you have any questions for them, or are interested in becoming an equality rep, please get in touch.
What to do if you feel you are being discriminated against: Seek immediate support and advice from your Equality Reps. Keep a record of all incidents which are relevant – log dates and details and write down your feelings after each occurrence together with your own response.
For more information on equalities and the networks available to union members, see the Equalities section of the union website at http://www.amicustheunion.org/Default.aspx?page=39.

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Unite members across Fujitsu Services Limited in the UK have been taking industrial as part of their dispute over jobs, union recognition, pay and pensions. Action from 28 February has included 15 days of strikes and ongoing action short of strike.

INDUSTRIAL ACTION IS CURRENTLY SUSPENDED but members have voted by 92% to reject a company offer and renewed campaign plans are being made.

The national dispute follows the resolution of a local dispute in Manchester which included 12 strike days.

Further information is available here including events, pickets, a downloadable appeal for support leaflet and how to donate to our strike fund.

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