LGBT+ workers forum and an update on equalities

Council workers recently established an LGBT+ forum to help empower staff that identify as LGBT+ and create a space for mutual support and guidance. The forum is the second employee forum to help ensure the rights of workers with protected characteristics, joining the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) forum for workers in health and social care, which has been running for over a decade.

Further employee networks are in the pipeline and the Council’s diversity and inclusion framework, which looks to be released soon, is looking at understanding the diversity of the workforce and ensuring this reflects the diversity of the city.

These are welcome developments in a context where

Contact your workplace rep or comment below with any comments you have on equality and diversity in the Council.

Join the LGBT+ forum

The forum’s AGM took place on 25 July and furnished fruitful discussions about how the forum will work and what issues are prevalent in the Council.

The forum welcomes Council employees that identify as LGBT+.

Contact Michael if you are interested in the LGBT+ forum: michael.richardson2@edinburgh.gov.uk.

Join the BME workers’ forum

The BME Equality Workers forum is open to

  • employees from both Children’s Services and Adults’ Services from all minority ethnic groups
  • any employee who is or might be affected by a racial discrimination
  • employees with relevant knowledge, interest, experience or professional roles in equality issues.

Visit the forum’s Orb page – only available on the Council network – to find out more.

Summer update: reviews, reviews, reviews

Several organisational reviews have recently taken place, are underway or are planned by our employer.  Some are increasing the workforce, some reducing and some changing structures and ways of working.  Our branch, members and wider workforce have experienced some positive results and some negative outcomes through these reviews.

Economic Development

The Economic Development review originally intended to break up the service and reduce the number of jobs from 53 to 22. Unite battled strongly for our members and encouraged a counter proposal that Unite and Unison members put together.

The bulk of this proposal was accepted by management and the efforts resulted in the service being mostly kept as one and a further 5 jobs saved.  However, this still means that more than 20 of our members and colleagues will be leaving the council or exposed to the vagaries of redeployment.

Cleaning

The Facilities Management Cleaning review will create jobs but there are some issues that Unite is tackling on behalf of our members.

The review means that some workers may have to change venues.  Our reps are monitoring this to ensure that it is done in a fair and equitable manner and that nobody is compelled to accept

  • reduced hours
  • far away venues
  • working times that are incompatible with their family lives.

Additionally, the changes to the job description have not been accompanied by the upgrading that Unite believes is necessary.  Our members in this area have told us they want to see appreciation of their efforts, especially if they are being asked to do more.  Reps are working hard to get this upgrading and avoid a harmful dispute.

Early years

The Early Years (phase 1) review has recently ended with some restructuring, re-focussing and movements of staff.  As there were no Unite members in this review our branch kept a watching brief and supported our Unison comrades in preparation for Early Years phase 2 which is scheduled to go ahead January 2020.  Our branch activists will be talking to members over the coming months to get their views on this.

Domestic abuse service

The Domestic Abuse Service review looked to going ahead with no union involvement (as communications had not been received from management and HR) until members got in touch and Unite insisted on this review extending its time period so that the workforce could properly present its case.  This was done and the review produced no job losses, although the branch is maintaining close communications with members to ensure that no further problems arise.

Other reviews

Other reviews are

  • Public Conveniences – currently underway.
  • Business Support – completed. We fought against the massive reduction in grade 5 posts and continue to support members as they enter their new posts.
  • Mailroom – completed.
  • ICT grades 10 and above – completed. We continue to engage with management around proposed changes for grades 9 and below. Currently, we are working to ensure management fill vacancies to alleviate pressure in certain areas.

If your work area has not been mentioned and you’d like to pass on details or you’d like to know more just contact the branch secretary: brian.robertson2@unitetheunion.org.

Conclusion

Our council continues to struggle financially and the prognosis for the next few years is not good.  There will likely be more redundancies, cuts, automations and other pressures placed on our members.

Our union and branch will continue to resist cuts and fight back against injustice where it exists.  If you feel you can help, or need help yourself please get in touch.

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia – 17 May

Tomorrow is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), a time to highlight the injustices and bigotry faced by LGBT people across the world and to celebrate the diversity in our society.

Labour MP Peter Kyle will table a special debate in Parliament tomorrow to honour the day.

Unite are committed to ensuring justice and fair treatment for everyone at work and in the community. Read about equalities on the Unite the Union website.

Advancing equality and protecting rights in CEC

We are currently involved in a working group, alongside our sister unions and councillors from across parties, that is looking at improving the Council’s approach to diversity and inclusion.

We have been presenting ideas on

  • reporting and recording of hate crime
  • celebrating landmark days related to equality
  • digital inclusion and access to information
  • facilities time for equalities reps
  • equality training to ensure practice follows policy.

The next meeting of the working group is the beginning of June. Members can get in touch with the vice convener to discuss anything they would like raised at the working group.

LGBT workers’ forum

Alongside our comrades in Unison, we are looking to support an LGBT workers’ forum for City of Edinburgh Council staff.

Contact our equalities rep for details on this and any other equalities issues.