Unions & Equalities

Steps forward at RMT AGM

Daniel Randall was a delegate to the recent AGM of the RMT rail union. He reports here in a personal capacity. The annual general meeting of the National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport workers (RMT) took place in Leeds from 24-29 October. The AGM had held-over business from the truncated 2020 AGM, which took place online, as well the 2021 business. It took place against the backdrop of threats including big job cuts in Network Rail, a pay freeze across the rail industry, and cuts on Transport for London. Recent officer elections in the union have seen the Broad Left alliance between...

Sage workers boosted by GOSH win

Workers at the Sage care home in north London struck from 20-22 October, as part of their ongoing fight for higher wages and improved conditions. The workers are demanding a pay increase to £12 per hour, as well as parity with NHS staff terms on sick pay and annual leave. They also want paid breaks on night shifts, and unsocial hours pay for weekend and night working. The strike saw a lively picket at the workplace, as well as a demonstration outside the head offices of Freshwater, the property conglomerate whose owner, Benzion Freshwater, is on Sage’s board of trustees. Care worker Bile, who...

Unite: transforming our union

The Unite General Secretary election gave us a chance to talk about what our union, and wider movement, should look like.

Accessibility should be standard

Over thirty delegates attended the RMT transport workers’ union’s 2021 Disabled Members’ Conference online on 17 and 18 April. The conference demanded that workplace accessibility be “as standard” not “as required”. An accessible job is one in which a disabled worker does not have to ask for adjustments, because barriers have already been removed. With the pandemic and the economic crisis accompanying it, delegates acknowledged that disabled transport workers feel insecure in their jobs and that the union needs a concerted fightback which incorporates this and other equality issues. Conference...

The Story of Colour Bars on the UK Railway

Speaking at our online meeting in September, Janine Booth tells the story of the period after the end of the Second World War when black people came to Britain but met opposition from some white workers, until the 'colour bar' was defeated in 1966.

Making anti-racism a union issue

Two years ago, activists in the Lambeth branch of the public services union Unison launched a campaign to fight institutional racism at Lambeth Council. We knew our employer had a huge race pay gap. We were hearing from our members that they were experiencing more racism at work, since the Brexit vote. We launched a survey and our black workers told us about their experiences of discrimination at work. The stats showed the same story. There were a disproportionate number of white workers in higher grades. You were more likely to face a disciplinary investigation at Lambeth if you were black...

GMB: investigate the charges!

The GMB union and the wider labour movement must act on the findings of the investigation by Karon Monaghan QC, which found that the GMB is institutionally sexist. The union began an independent investigation in May into sexual harassment in the GMB, after announcing it had received an anonymous letter accusing General Secretary Tim Roache of “sexist and aggressive” behaviour towards women. The report found women are under-represented throughout the GMB’s ranks, and that bullying, misogyny, cronyism and sexual harassment are endemic within the GMB. The report tells of a senior official who has...

Making equality more than a buzzword

In recent months I have become increasingly aware of the lack of diversity in my workplace, a Network Rail office in London. My suspicions about Network Rail were confirmed when I read in its 2019 Ethnicity Pay Gap Report that only 8.6% of its workforce is from a black or ethnic minority background compared to the national BAME population of 13%. According to the report, the lowest proportion of BAME workers is in the Operations and Maintenance section, where the overwhelming majority of Network Rail’s employees work. Those are the people who go out fixing the tracks. BAME workers make up over...

TUC report reveals racism but offers no answer

A TUC report, Dying on the job: racism and risk at work, has revealed the deep-seated racism that underlies the higher impact of Covid-19 on black and minority ethnic (BME) people, but its proposals fall well short of what is needed. In the early days of the pandemic, it became clear that BME people were dying at a significantly greater rate. Compared with white people, black people are more than four times as likely to die from Covid-19, Bangladeshi and Pakistani people more than one-and-a-half times as likely. While the government tried to portray this as a mystery requiring medical study...

GMB: democracy vs Regional Secretaries

The GMB union is institutionally sexist. There is gender-based job discrimination. Branches are male-dominated, with deliberately engineered limits on female participation. And bullying, misogyny, cronyism, and sexual harassment are endemic in the union. That is the conclusion of Karon Monaghan QC’s report on her investigation into the GMB, commissioned by its Central Executive Council (CEC) in late April, and published on 2 September. Monaghan’s remit was to investigate the GMB’s record on responding to complaints of sexual harassment, assess the effectiveness (or otherwise) of GMB policies...

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.