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Colleges and universities can work with unions to improve race equality

10 November 2006 | last updated: 15 December 2015

Colleges and universities are failing to prevent unfair disadvantage to their ethnic minority staff, and should work more closely with unions to resolve this, according to UCU.

It is four years since the Race Relations Amendment Act (RRAA) required college and university employers to monitor and improve their procedures, but the union says little has been done. UCU will examine ways to improve this at its conference, All for race equality ...are you?, on Thursday 16 November in London.

The conference, to be attended by lecturers and academic-related staff from UK colleges and universities, will begin a campaign to help employers in further education and higher education to speed up implementation of the RRAA. It includes a panel debate with high profile figures from both sectors and it will also hear of successful challenges to discrimination.

UCU is currently working with the Commission for Racial Equality to promote good employment practice. A joint project will monitor whether FE colleges are meeting their duty to have the appropriate race equality policies (REPs) in place and to carry out race equality impact assessments (REIAs). The exercise will identify areas of non-compliance and highlight areas of best practice. A report will be produced in January 2007.

Roger Kline, head of equality and employment rights at UCU, who will chair the conference, said: 'How well equality duties are implemented is a good indicator of how well colleges and universities generally treat their staff, but sadly four years since the RRAA almost no progress has been made in ensuring fair recruitment and promotion.

'This conference will equip UCU branches to kick-start some improvement. We shall be exploring ways of working with employers to improve their practises, reminding them that if they get this right there are benefits for everyone. Transparency in appointments and promotions would show that procedures are genuinely fair. This is good for equality, for staff career progression and for morale. The key to change is leadership and we are seeking a partnership with employers which will convert policy from the pages of documents into improvements in the working lives of all employees.'

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