Scottish Parliament's Equality Committee's
Taking Stock on Race Equality
UNISON Scotland Response
UNISON is Scotland's largest trade union with
over 140,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland.
UNISON has Self Organised Groups elected from within our membership,
with a remit to address issues of importance and to advise the
union on policy areas relating to those specific groups. The
UNISON Scotland Black Workers' Committee works on issues of
importance to our black and minority ethnic members, including
tackling race discrimination in the workplace and in all areas
of society. UNISON Black Workers' Committee contributes to policy
formulation in UNISON, particularly on race discrimination and
race equality within UNISON, and on our approaches to external
UNISON Scotland welcomes the opportunity to contribute
to the Scottish Parliament's Equal Opportunities Committee's
"Taking Stock Initiative" on race equality. It is
good that the Committee is fulfilling one of the founding principles
of the Parliament to bring decision making closer to the people,
with this evidence taking activity.
Consulting on Race Equality
Since the advent of the Labour Government at Westminster
in 1997, and the subsequent establishment of the devolved Scottish
Parliament, it has been heartening to witness a new approach
to race equality issues in the UK and Scotland. The new commitment
to tackling race discrimination and institutional racism, and
to actively promoting race equality is very welcome.
UNISON has been involved in a range of consultations
on race issues since 1997, including the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry
Report recommendations for Scotland, the Scottish Executive's
Equality Strategy and the Race Equality Advisory Forum
process. It is important that trade unions and black and minority
ethnic people are included in these consultations, so as their
views and experiences are taken into account in policy formulation.
UNISON Black Members' Committee have also appreciated the commitment
of the Minister for Social Justice to enter into dialogue with
trade union members. The previous Minister Jackie Baillie has
addressed the STUC Black Workers' Conference on a number of
occasions and answered the many and varied questions of delegates.
Clearly it is best practice to consult, investigate
and debate policies prior to putting them into action, to ensure
that the right policies, procedures and outcomes are achieved.
Whilst the consulting and evidence taking from
the Scottish Executive and Scottish Parliament is most welcome,
UNISON is concerned that on the very sensitive issue of race
equality and race discrimination, there has been an enormous
amount of consulting, investigating and debating the issues,
with little evidence of delivery or real policy outcome. The
Executive appears to have produced a number of consultation
publications and strategy documents, where as visible movement
on putting policies into action is not as clear. It is appreciated
that there is a great deal of work to be done on race issues,
after years of neglect during Conservative Governments of the
1980s and 1990s, however, we are anxious to see substance behind
the very good intentions of the Parliament and the Executive.
UNISON is wary that this taking stock initiative
may have come too early in that we have not had the opportunity
to see substantial action or policy outcomes from previous consultations.
Whilst we can see that the Executive is attempting to address
current provision and improve facilities to ensure community
integration, we believe that there has been limited progress
in the implementation of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act
2000, including the action under Public Duty Orders. Indeed
the Specific Duties to be placed on public bodies through the
RRA 2000 were only announced by the Scottish Executive on 12
March 2002. In addition, we believe there has been limited progress
on developing cross cutting approaches to capacity building
and race equality.
Race Equality Framework
UNISON is concerned at the absence of a clear
framework or strategy from the Executive on race equality issues.
We have acknowledged the activities and consultations conducted
by the Executive and the rhetoric on race equality. However,
we feel that a much more focussed approach is required, to pull
all of the disparate strands of work together in one distinct
Such a framework should include:
- aims and objectives,
- activities and actions to achieve the objectives,
- a timetable for actions,
- ownership of the strategy and responsibility for carrying
out actions / activities, targets and progress which should
be achieved within given timetables,
- leadership for the strategy,
- regular review and monitoring of the strategy.
Mainstreaming race equality, along with cross
cutting initiatives to tackle race discrimination and promote
racial equality, should be central to the framework. Leadership
and ownership of the strategy on behalf of the Executive is
also key to the success of a mainstream approach
Through its "Leadership" initiative,
the Commission for Racial Equality has recognised the importance
of having flag bearers to highlight best practice in race equality
issues. UNISON believes it is essential that we see greater
leadership and ownership of race equality issues from the Executive
and Ministers in particular.
Through a mainstreamed approach we want Ministers
to acknowledge and respond to their positions as leaders of
the race equality agenda within their own departments. Rather
than focussing on the Social Justice Minister as being the Minister
to push the agenda forward, the Health Minister should recognise
that he/she is responsible for leading on race equality issues
within the health and community care remit. Likewise, the Ministers
for Education, Transport, Justice and Local Government, should
all be taking a lead on race issues in their own areas.
It is by identifying those with responsibility,
and empowering them to act, that we will see real progress with
the race equality agenda.
The community at large has seen little or no progress
on the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000, particularly with
regards to the new duties on public bodies. We would like to
see more leadership in this area from the Executive, and leadership
to encourage employers in public bodies to implement the RRA2000
Mainstreaming Race Equality
UNISON welcomed the establishment of the Scottish
Executive's Equality Unit and its key objectives of mainstreaming
equality issues, and to ensure policies of the Executive are
audited for their impact on those from minority ethnic communities,
and gender, disability, age, etc..
However, we feel that race issues are still not
been adequately mainstreamed within the Executive and the Scottish
Parliament. If we take the Equality Unit definition of mainstreaming
as "the systematic integration of an equality perspective
into all aspects of the work of the Executive, involving policy
development, practice, organisation, structures, and personnel
at every level", UNISON believes that the Executive is
not mainstreaming race to the extent that it could do. We feel
that race equality issues are still being compartmentalised
as separate to mainstreaming issues.
A simple example of this is the recent NHS "Fair
For All" document on a strategy to ensure that everyone
is entitled to fair access to health. Rather than being categorised
as a "health" document on the Executive's web site,
the publication was classed as "Ethnic Minorities".
The fundamental point is that this is a health document, and
those working or interested in the Executive's plans for health
should be directed to it. Under a mainstreaming strategy where
equality issues should be embraced by everyone, it should not
be categorised as only a document for ethnic minorities.
UNISON believes it is essential that the Executive
and Parliament mainstream effectively, rather than allowing
mainstreaming to degenerate into tokenism where public commitment
is given in principle, but where progress is seldom achieved
Race equality issues have to be fully integrated
into all areas of work. There needs to be an equality audit
of the current position, which given the extensive consultations
and evidence taking, the Executive and Parliament should be
aware of the base from which we are starting. Positive action
strategies need to be developed more to achieve the goals of
community integration, tackle discrimination and to promote
UNISON believes that the Executive has to promote
training, development and awareness raising on race equality,
to develop best practice tools to assist with mainstreaming
race across the public sector, and in all public bodies. Partnership
working is essential, we welcome the Executive and Parliament's
involvement of the Commission for Racial Equality, Race Equality
Councils, the STUC Black Workers Committee, and other community
groups. We also need to do more to remove the barriers that
prevent integration, and are thwarting the progress of minority
ethnic people in the public sector, and from progressing in
wider public and civic life .
Cross cutting initiatives
Much more needs to be done on positive action
to develop cross cutting measures to promote race equality and
tackle discrimination. The Executive is involved in a whole
raft of positive initiatives, however, we would question the
joined up working of them..
For example UNISON would like to see the Close
the Gap campaign, which aims to tackle the gender pay gap, address
the wider pay gap of minority ethnic women, and adopt positive
strategies to support black and minority ethnic women in employment.
There is an opportunity to ensure that race discrimination is
tackled through a wide range of Executive policies, from housing,
transport, health and education.
Last year the Executive spoke of a campaign, on
a similar level of that to combat domestic abuse against women,
which would campaign against racism in society. As far as UNISON
is aware, this project is yet to take off.
Last year UNISON commissioned a comprehensive
UK-wide survey by Labour Research Department, to record and
analyse the impact of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry on employers
in the public sector, published 23 July 2001. The report revealed
that black and ethnic minority populations are still under-represented
in the workplace. Only just over half of employers were satisfied
that the ethnic composition of their workforce reflected that
of the local community, but only 11% had set targets for change.
UNISON concluded that action is urgently needed to tackle race
inequality in the public sector.
Our survey found that although employers claimed
to have equal opportunities policies these did not translate
into practice. Employers did not necessarily review these policies,
monitor the ethnic composition of the workforce, set timetables
and fix targets to deal with the issue of under-representation
both within the workforce in general and in specific grades
UNISON's survey found that racial harassment tended
to be tackled as a disciplinary issue, ignoring the fact that
many black and ethnic minority workers faced abuse from members
of the public. Experience from UNISON members shows that racial
harassment is sadly a common occurrence. It is assumed that
organisations will know how to address this issue, but unfortunately
this is far from the case, and employers in all sectors have
to be encouraged to improve and implement effective harassment
policies, and develop training for all employees on the issue.
Without real capacity building strategies, black and minority
ethnic workers become easy targets for racial harassment and
abuse in the workplace. Harassment policies also need to be
tightened up on protecting black and minority ethnic employees
from racial harassment or abuse from the users of public services
In our view, more action on implementing the RRA2000
is clearly needed to ensure that public bodies are not discriminating
against black and minority ethnic employees, potential employees,
or their users.
The UNISON survey revealed a surprising under-representation
of black and ethnic minority workers in the public sector. Although
this was a UK-wide survey, we believe that further action is
needed in Scotland to encourage black and minority ethnic people
to work in the public sector. The public sector should be leading
the way in making sure that their services and employment practices
reflect the interests and needs of the communities they serve.
Following the report findings UNISON recommended
a range of actions public sector employers should be taking
Agreement between staff and unions on standard categorisation
Employers setting targets for recruitment, promotion
and training together with the timetable within which the
targets should be achieved.
Regular review of equal opportunity policies.
Review of harassment policies to ensure they
cover harassment by service users.
Joint employer / union work on the issue of
institutional racism. Joint task groups can achieve successful
outcomes in terms of creating an environment that encourages
The Executive's own report ‘Fair for all' reached
the same conclusions, and also highlighted the lack of real
leadership on the issue of race in Scotland Health service.
Race Equality Training
In Scotland UNISON has stated that there should
be a greater focus on equal opportunity training (UNISON Scotland's
Manifesto on Equalities and Public Services). We believe that
those who deliver services should be fully appraised of equal
opportunities policies and trained to deal sensitively with
all Scotland's citizens.
UNISON has found that there are difficulties with
delivering integrated services with fully trained staff where
services are delivered by a variety of employers, with different
contractual obligations and motivations, employing people on
different conditions. We believe the Scottish Executive's continued
promotion of PFI and private sector involvement in the delivery
of public services does not sit easily with its commitment to
race equality and tackling discrimination. There needs to be
a clear indication from private contractors that they are willing
to embrace the provisions of the Race Relations Amendment Act,
and the Executive's positive Equality Strategy and REAF strategy.
Where private contractors are failing to meet their obligations
as "public bodies" under the RRA2000 the Executive
has to ensure action is taken against them.
Capacity building is crucial if we are to fully
integrate black and minority ethnic people into all aspects
of Scottish social, economic and civil life. Within the health
service UNISON welcomes initiatives to encourage graduates from
black and minority ethnic backgrounds into the health professions.
However, we would like to see these practices rolled out to
all sectors and all levels within the health service.
Recent census returns have indicated that the
black and minority ethnic population in Scotland is a young
population, and therefore provides a pool of talent and resources
for the public sector. We believe that the health service, and
the public sector as a whole should be drawing on this pool,
encouraging black and minority ethnic people into the services
at all levels, as catering and cleaning staff, nurses, ancillary
workers, not just as health professionals. And once in the public
sector, individuals need to be nurtured and valued, offered
training and development, so as they can see the potential for
and experience career progression within the public sector.
The public sector has to address issues of race
discrimination and harassment if it is going to encourage black
and minority ethnic individuals to work safely and successfully
within it. As noted above, UNISON promotes the implementation
and enforcement of harassment policies on harassment and discrimination
from service users, to protect public sector workers. We are
concerned to see that the UK continues to recruit public sector
workers from overseas without tackling the racist views which
still pervade in UK society. The Executive's proposals for a
Zero Tolerance campaign on racism would be a clear example of
a cross cutting initiative which could work to tackle racism
and protect public service workers.
The Scottish Refugee Council has shown that a
range of untapped skills exist within the asylum seeking population
in Scotland. Whilst we recognise that asylum policy rests with
Westminster, Enterprise and Lifelong Learning policy is the
concern of the Executive, and we would wish to see more action
from the Executive to engage the skills of refugees in Scotland.
Encouraging asylum seekers into work and/or training is an example
of joined up government - addressing skills gaps in our economy,
providing work and self sufficiency for refugees, lifting them
out of poverty and helping with integration into Scottish society.
The three areas that the Equal Opportunities Committee‘s
stock taking initiative is addressing are inextricably linked.
It is through progress in the implementation of the RRA2000
and the development of cross-cutting approaches to capacity
building and race equality that we will work towards ensuring
community integration. The Executive, therefore, has to take
a lead in ensuring the effective implementation of the RRA2000,
together with developing cross cutting approaches to race equality,
mainstreaming race equality issues in all aspects of its work.
Overall, UNISON is looking for a more focused
approach to addressing race equality issues in Scotland. An
approach which is systematic, measured and monitored, with clear
aims and objectives, and includes all sections of the Executive
to embrace all areas of life in Scotland.
For further information please contact:
Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX
Tel 0845 355 0845 Fax 0141 342 2835
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