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National Delegate Conference 17-20 June 2008

Enforcing equality and union rights - A Trade Union Freedom Bill

by Kate Ramsden and John Stevenson

Alan Bradley
Alan Bradley
One Workplace

Conference pledged continued support for a Trade Union Freedom Bill and backed a range of measures to challenge inequality and to enforce employment and trade union rights.

UNISON will campaign for the protection from exploitation of vulnerable workers including agency workers and migrant workers.

NEC member Bob Oram told Conference, "We need to take ownership of our action - it's too important for mere words."

Bob pointed out that we have fewer rights than 102 years ago when the Trades Dispute Act was passed.

Conference welcomed improved employment rights after 12 weeks to agency workers as a start, but it would be no use without without more inspectors and better enforcement.

Alan Bradley, Dumfries and Galloway welcomed UNISON's commitment to challenge unfair treatment in the workplace. He told conference of the experiences of his branch in campaigning against such inequalities on behalf of their low paid women members.

He described how the branch mobilized these members to fight for equal pay through litigation, negotiation and campaigning and how they successfully fought an attempt by the employer to cut 70 jobs. This led to an increase in recruitment and organization amongst this group of staff.

"Our employer remains acutely aware that UNISON can and will mobilize its members to challenge any attempts to discriminate against our members or to threaten wholesale job cuts," he said.

Alan paid tribute to branch secretary Marion Stewart and classroom assistant and steward, Elaine North. "Elaine and Marion won the STUC "One Workplace Equalities Award" in May for their campaigning work with classroom assistants for equal pay and a proper single status grading and their successful challenge to attempts to cut classroom assistant jobs."

Here they are seen receiving the award at the Scottish Trades Union Congress from First Minister Alex Salmond.