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Serving Scotland Equally
a 'minifesto' on equalities and public services

Promoting equality

One of the four key principles adopted by the Consultative Steering Group for the Scottish Parliament was for the Parliament to promote equal opportunities for all. This is a principle that UNISON has been campaigning for all its life.

UNISON's Serving Scotland campaign has adopted three key principles;

  • Giving people a say in their services
  • Choosing quality services
  • Choosing teamwork

All those principles depend on the equal treatment of everyone, both in terms of the delivery of public services, and in terms of the treatment of those who form the public service team.

UNISON fully supports the Parliamentary decision to set up an Equal Opportunities Committee backed up by an Equality Unit.

Whilst it is clear that authorities and employers tend to deal with equal opportunities in the three areas where discrimination is legally proscribed - race, gender and disability - the Scotland Act covers a much wider area. Our Scottish Parliament, therefore, must deal with all areas of discrimination.

And in its own work it must be scrupulous about the equality of access that was promised in the run up to its establishment.

It should also create links between equalities work and that on social inclusion, as these are often linked in real life.


Giving people a say in their services

High priority for a Scottish Parliament should be repeal of Clause 28 of the Local Government Act and equalisation of the Age of Consent.

Scots with a disability have a right to access integrated employment and Parliament should work towards ensuring that this right is enforced.

The Scottish Parliament should use its direct control over many of Scotland's institutions to maximise the challenge to racism.

Pressure should be put on to get the Disability Discrimination Act (1995) replaced by legislation that has been discussed and agreed with disabled people.

Outdated legislation on such matters as equal access to public services, and criminalisation of sexual activity should be revised in line with the principles of equality. This should apply to all legislation.

Legislation effectively debarring same-sex and unmarried couples adopting or fostering children should be reviewed as soon as possible with a view to including all Scotland's citizens.

Increased resources need to be devoted to Care in the Community, to ensure the proper level of care is available. Integrated services are important, and should be made available via democratically accountable service providers. eg local authorities

We welcome the idea of a Youth Parliament, but it must have real influence on Parliamentary work. We would like a minister for Young People.

The voting age for all elections should be reduced to 16.


Choosing quality services

Equal opportunities, including sexuality and related issues, should form part of the educational curriculum.

Initiatives on drug abuse too, should have a clear educational direction, not a purely negative approach.

Health information and professional staff back-up should be available, and information made available on how to access services for people with particular needs.

Best practice and contract compliance on equal opportunities should be implemented in Parliament's own functioning and the areas for which it has responsibility. It should publish reports on bodies who fail to implement best practice. For example, it will be in an excellent position to encourage professional bodies to adopt equal opportunities statements, including sexual orientation.

Both the policies of, and the services provided by, the Parliament and those employers for which it has overall responsibility, should be based on the Social Model of Disability where they relate to disabled people.

Parliament should insist that public institutions - especially the criminal justice and education systems - are fully aware of institutional racism and address the issue in their work.

The rights and needs of all citizens who require residential care or other social work services, whatever their gender, race, religious beliefs, age, disability or sexual orientation, should be promoted within local authorities and to other owners and deliverers of care.

Support should be available from local authorities to ensure these services are of the highest standard.

Health Care should be available equally. Services such as Breast Cancer Screening, Coronary Rehabilitation etc should not be removed from older people. Residential care should not involve the current swingeing demands on old people's savings.

Same sex partners must have the same rights as other tenants in local authority, housing association or private housing.

We want our Parliament to address the causes of young people on the streets at night. This would be more effective than the imposition of 'curfews' and other criminalisation tactics which only serve to exclude young people from society.

Proper resources should be provided for facilities such as sport and the arts to assist young and other groups to actively participate in society.

Public transport should be a properly integrated system. Regulation should be used to ensure affordable transport especially for older and disabled people, and in rural areas.


Choosing teamwork

Equal opportunity training for Parliament, its staff, and employees of bodies for which it has legislative control, should be a priority. Those who deliver services should be fully appraised of equal opportunities policies and trained to deal sensitively with all Scotland's citizens.

Services for people with specific needs cross the traditional boundaries of public services, and require more integration and joint working, not further fragmentation.

The difficulty in delivering such an integrated, fully trained service is compounded where services are delivered by a variety of employers, with different contractual obligations and motivations,employing people on different conditions, such as exists under PFI and elsewhere when services are contracted out of the public sector.

The importance of the public services team delivering a consistent, properly resourced service for all the people of Scotland should mean the abolition of PFI and other schemes that break up integrated services.

Pay rates and job opportunities should not be subject to discrimination on the grounds of age. Neither lower pay for young people nor the deliberate exclusion of older workers from the jobs market can be justified in our country.

Pension rights too, should be equally available to life partners, whatever their gender or marital status.


Inclusiveness and respect

Our New Parliament has inherited a situation where many Scots are effectively debarred from taking part in public life or properly accessing its public services, through no fault of their own. Whilst it is the case that most equalities powers are reserved to Westminster, there is still much a Scottish parliament can do.

The creation and dissemination of 'best practice', for example, and ensuring that they, and other bodies carry out their functions in a non-discriminatory manner.

We would like to see a Scottish Parliament leading the way in promoting an end to age discrimination in benefit qualification and education grants. And we want the findings of the Commission on the funding of Long Term Care adopted.

To ensure that our society is truly inclusive, and to treat all our citizens with the respect they deserve, we must ensure that they have real access to the wide range of positive opportunities society and the public services have to offer. Only then can we say that we are

This minifesto and a full copy of Serving Scotland, A manifesto For Scotland's Public Services, is on UNlSONScotland's Website at http://www.unison-scotland org. uk.

It is also available in different languages and formats from UNISONScotland, 14, West Campbell Street, Glasgow G2 6RX. tel 0141-332 0006, fax 0141 342 2835, e-mail c.bartter@unison.co.uk.

Published by UNISONScotland as part of its Serving Scotland campaign, UNISON House, 14 West Campbell Street, Glasgow G2 6RX. Tel 0141 332 0006.



Home | Serving Scotland Manifesto | Self Organised Groups

Promoting equality
+Dealing with ALL discrimination
Giving people a say in their services
+Equal access for all
Choosing quality services
Choosing teamwork
+Training, integration
Inclusiveness and respect

Natalie Roberston
Natalie Robertson is a development worker in a community health project based within a Social Inclusion Partnership area of Edinburgh.

"We have the opportunity to deal with discrimination beyond that which is currently legally outlawed", she said.

"Serious issues of access and inclusiveness should go beyond mere words. Let's make the Scottish Parliament truly representative of ALL people in Scotland".


Bernard Kamya
Bernard Kamya is a graduate engineer working for Aberdeenshire Council Roads Department. He is keen to see the Scottish Parliament treat equality of opportunity as a key issue.

"It is important that the Parliament starts to investigate ways of promoting equal opportunity", he said.

"Not only as far as its own work is concerned, but also elsewhere in Scottish society. We should use this opportunity of a new start to open up Scotland's institutions to all the Scottish people".