Ian Allinson, the grassroots socialist candidate for Unite General Secretary, has announced a range of radical proposals to promote equality and challenge discrimination against women in the union.
Last year’s “Women Officers in Unite” report showed that many women officers working for the union experienced bullying and harassment that they felt was inadequately dealt with by the union. The report had significant implications for other union employees and for women members. The proposals Allinson has announced are:
- A review of all the union’s education and training for members and staff to raise the understanding of equality and diversity of everyone actively involved with the union
- A review of the union’s women’s structures to ensure they provide a representative voice for Unite women, champion issues of particular concern to women, and provide a route to participation in Unite for members who face additional barriers due to sexism
- Ending the requirement for Regional Women’s and Equalities Officer roles to be done as a part-job alongside an industrial allocation, so that equality issues have more focus and resource
- Extending the recommendations of the Women Officers in Unite report to all women employed by union
- A review of Unites grievance and complaints procedures to remove any bias against women who make complaints related to discrimination, bullying or harassment
- Make equality and diversity a standing agenda item for all Unite’s constitutional committees
The measures will be put out for consultation and implemented as an urgent priority if Allinson is elected as Unite General Secretary.
“Women still experience lower pay than men and worse promotion opportunities. Employment is highly segregated, with women over-represented in low paid, insecure, caring, cleaning and sales jobs. Women are still largely excluded from other industrial and occupations.”
“Fujitsu, where I work, has a largely male workforce and we are currently having to take industrial action to try to force the company to come clean about huge pay inequalities and work with the union to tackle them.”
“While unions play a vital role in challenging discrimination, we have to do more to put our own house in order. Women want our union to be better than the sexist society they live in.”
“Three years ago when I was on the Executive Council we had to overturn Len McCluskey to agree a proposal from Unite’s National Women’s Committee that education about what women’s oppression is should be compulsory for Unite’s tutors and elected officials.”
“Last year’s report shows how far we still have to go. It is not acceptable that women are still facing sexism within our union and not having confidence in support when they raise or challenge it. Women involved in the union have asked that I make this a priority issue. As soon as I am elected I will invite all Unite’s women members, representatives and staff to give their views on the proposals I am suggesting.”
“We must make Unite a more equal and welcoming environment for women. We can’t afford to waste the energy and expertise of women members. Real change in our union is vital if we are to properly tackle the inequalities women face at work.”
Notes to editors:
The “Women Officers in Unite” report, produced in May 2016, showed that over half (56.3%) of Unite’s women officers have raised an issue relating to their welfare at work, including bullying, harassment or work-related stress, in the past five years. Almost half of these (48.9%) reported that the issue, once raised, was handled “not at all well” by the Union. The full report can be found here: http://ian4unite.org/suppressed-report-women-unite/
Ian Allinson is a workplace activist at Fujitsu in Manchester who previously served ten years on the union Executive. Ian comfortably secured the nominations to be a candidate in the Unite General Secretary election. The other candidates in the election are Len McCluskey, the current General Secretary, and Gerard Coyne, Regional Secretary for the West Midlands.
Voting takes place 27 March – 19 April.
Ian is available for interview. For more information, call 07985 438 553 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photographs are available at www.ian4unite.org/resources/
Ian has recently been on strike at his workplace. Information about the Fujitsu dispute is here: https://ouruniontest.wordpress.com/fujitsu-national-dispute/. As part of the campaign Unite produced a dossier about pay inequality at Fujitsu: https://ouruniontest.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/unite-dossier-on-fujitsu-pay-inequality/