Sunday, January 27, 2008

NEC Sub-Committees

Down to London for the sub-committees on Tuesday. The meetings are held at Victoria Street in London. The first meeting was the Women's, Race, Equality Committee.

As these are the first committee meetings since conference we have to re-elect the chairs, so Norma Stephenson of Unison was re-elected unanimously.

There was a big discussion on, and welcome for, the Government's proposed Equality Bill, which is due to be publicised shortly.

The four main elements of the bill focus on:

* Tackling unequal pay especially in relation to women

* Tackling inequalities in employment especially in terms of racial inequality

* Increasing the employment of people with disabilities

Increased representation of black and minority ethnic communities in parliament. This will include legislation allowing for "diversity" shortlists - presumably one which is entirely BAME.

This section was outlined by Harriet Harman and I was glad to hear her say we need a "more fair and equal Britain". For me fairness is the key concept - all of us believe in fairness and justice.

A point made by my colleague, Cath Speight, (Amicus / Unite) was that equal pay is not just a woman's issue - it’s a family issue!

An interesting point to emerge in the discussion was that the minimum wage has led to the closure of the gender pay gap at the bottom of the income scale.

There will be a survey of disabilities amongst M.P.s

The Disputes Committee meets at 1.00 p.m. to handle individual cases and we then have the Organisation Committee. Again we elected the Chair for the current year - Mike Griffiths of Unite. We endorsed a large number of parliamentary selections but progress seems to be slowing down on deciding which of the remaining seats have All Women Shortlists. Its important we don’t take our eye off the ball. There was a big discussion about the selection in East Lothian and I agreed to do an enquiry into the Bolton South East selection and supported a move from Ann Black to allow CLPs which genuinely can't find a woman delegate for Conference to at least get some representation.

To be honest the agenda was a bit light and I get the impression of things being a little bit "on hold" until we select a new General Secretary. Its important this doesn't affect our election preparations.

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