RMT LGBT Conference 2012 Report

RMT LGBT Conference at Jury’s Inn, Southampton 18th May 2012 Report by Jo Parry.

A total of 23 delegates took part in this year’s conference the largest delegation that I can recall in the last few years. (29 were registered to attend). 7 delegates where from London Transport Region. 4 female delegates were on the list to attend; however, yet again I was the only female delegate to actually turn up.

Tony Parris, from South Hants branch was a brilliant host, welcoming everyone with a great pre-conference social in London Hotel and even led the Karaoke. Shame the conference venue’s lunchtime spread was not a patch on that from the night before.

Conference even started with a power cut in the hotel but we pressed on.

The original conference chair did not attend but luckily the vice chair Paul Blair was a dab hand at it when he took the hot seat for the proceedings.

Bob Crow – General Secretary

A speech from Bob Crow started the conference.
Bob spoke the need to organise against the findings of the McNulty report. He explained how when a franchise changes the tenders will automatically be changed to say no guards or catering staff on trains, and yet when you are stuck in a crisis and need help evacuating a train who are the ones to primarily help you out? - Oh yes the guard and the catering staff!

McNulty report also said that the industry overpays and suggests the increasing of fairs whilst services are slashed. Bob stated this is why we should be running passenger awareness campaigns as “no passengers = no jobs”.

Bob then went on to discuss if Greece defaults it will affect anyone in the UK with a pension as banks invest our money in Greece and so pension pots could decrease by 10-15%.

Next Bob explained the changes to employment tribunal (ET) claims that this condem government are to introduce from Oct.

  • To bring a case for unfair dismissal you need to have been employed for 2 years – yet employers can dismiss you from day 1.
  • No longer have a right to claim expenses for witnesses
  • Chair can now hear the case on their own instead of needing two others
  • It will cost an individual £250 to file a form for ET. Then for the actual tribunal hearing the individual will need to pay an extra £1000. (Equal to approx. 6 years of RMT membership fees). Bob explained the ave. successful claim wins £4,800. Bob explained that he wanted members to not have to worry about finding these costs and he would prefer the union to actually include the guarantee that the union will pay the ET fees as a condition of membership fees. However they are looking into the costs involved in supporting this. It could mean an increase in membership fees or it may be that the union looks at using it’s savings to cover this cost. (On rough calculations it could mean an additional £10 a year to membership fee).
  • Social security will be taken off you in the time of the case.
  • Removal of success fee for accident/injury claims. Solicitors will only receive £400. Currently RMT has a 92% win rate for these types of claims.
  • For an injury claim of up to £5000 we will no longer be able to reclaim the costs from the other side.

union rep facilities time is currently paid for my employers – this is being removed and so the union will need to pay for release of reps to conduct duties and pay reps if they need to attend a staff side meeting.

Bob then spoke about the government removing the union learning fund. He said that RMTrecognised the importance of giving working people the opportunity to move up the ranks and so they are hoping to set up a Union Advisory Committee that will look at what we should do for learning/education.

Bob explained that as part of the union’s commitment to education work is underway on creating a further 8 bedrooms at Doncaster Education Centre which means that an extra 400+ reps could be trained there in a year (depending on the length of the courses).

Bob said that they are also looking at the practicability of placing all legislation and updates for reps on kindles that could then be loaned from Unity House to reps to be kept abreast of changes.

Bob explained how union rep facilities time is currently paid for my employers – this is being removed and so the union will need to pay for release of reps to conduct duties and pay reps if they need to attend a staff side meeting.

Bob also spoke about the advantages of a credit union (external site) account over a bank account.

Janine Booth – EC report

Homophobia at work posters have been produced. Janine said that we should ourselves why cultures that tolerate homophobia exist in the workplace still.

Janine talked through progress of last year’s conference resolutions; handing out a copy of the new look membership form which now includes sexual orientation. (Coming originally from a resolution from TfL branch). That includes heterosexuality too.

For those wondering what happens with the information, there has been a guarantee that this information will not appear on starters/leavers lists or on branch secretary lists or forms. For existing
members the website has been amended so you can update your information in the membership section.

LGBT history resolution – they are still collating the information/stories that have been submitted and will issue something in autumn.

Homophobia at work posters have been produced and Janine discussed that we need to be asking ourselves why cultures that tolerate homophobia exist in the workplace still.

Janine said she believed “there are no individual cases; we should view it as an individual example of a collective case”.

DVD resolution – DVD has been produced. (As submitted with the report) and it is also available to be viewed on RMTV.

Q&A followed:

Does every rep training course include equality training?
- There is an action for Jess Webb (Equality Officer) and Andy Gilchrist (Education Officer) to take this forward.

Any news on a disability Advisory Committee? –
The EC decided not to create a committee but to create 2 meetings to understand the issues more before proceeding with a rule change. Unfortunately at both meetings only 2 members attended. The consensus
in the room was that we need to build the case in the rank file for the need for a committee and that the meetings should be open to all activists at the start to help push that process along.

Phil Boston – Organising Unit

Thanked everyone for last year’s support at Bristol Pride. Phil explained how impressed he was at the interest of people at pride of the postcard campaign’s we ran from the stall.

Phil went on to talk about the vulnerable workers (external site) meetings, how vulnerable workers are not just migrant workers but a whole host of different workers which can include LGBT workers. Phil gave a copy of the vulnerable workers DVD to delegates.

Phil explained how the org. unit is always available to help where they can but it’s up to branches and regional councils to approach the org. unit.

Mark Healey 17-24-30.org

As this branch will already know since we are affiliated to the organisation, I’ll keep this section as short as possible. Mark gave a PowerPoint about the mission of the organisation, the attacks on Black, Asian and LGBT communities seen in the April 1999 nail bomb attacks. 17-24-30.org is now registered as a small charity and going through the process of full charitable status with the charities commission.

Mark stated that 10,000 people attended the 30th Oct. 2009 No to hate crime vigil that was held in Trafalgar square.

The 2012 vigil will be on 20th Oct.

Richard Williams – Thompsons Solicitors

As an employment tribunals Solicitor, Richard talked through the changes seen since the introduction of the Equalities Act in Oct. 2010

Richard explained that the most important thing for bringing a successful claim is to be able to prove that the discrimination, harassment or victimisation was specifically due to a protected characteristic.
When compiling a case the most important documents to be attaching to an L2 are as follows:

  • Chronology
  • Summary of why they believe the detriment is due to a protected characteristic
  • Witness statements to support the claim
  • E-mails or documented evidence that clearly shows the detriment is due to a protected characteristic.

Richard explained that if you can’t supply the above then you are relying on inference which is quite weak and often unsuccessful.

Richard Chapman-Harris – BTP LGBT Forum (LINK-LGBT Vice-Chair)

Richard explained that LINK is the staff network group for LGBT BTP officers and that they have been holding stakeholder forums to see how they can improve their service around LGBT engagement.

Richard commented that most employers who have taken them up on this have been confused at what engagement they should have with their unions on setting equality policies and staff groups. So this is something we need to be clearer about as a union.

Richard went on to ask what can BTP do for you?
Richard made a note of all the comments so that he can take them back, and hopefully help to improve BTP’s performance. Some of the comments below:

One of the questions asked was "Why should we trust the BTP?"

  • Not laughing at reports of abuse
  • Advertise homophobic abuse reporting for customers
  • Understand the invisible minority?/out in the workplace
  • Why should we trust the BTP
  • Consistency in the level of service
  • Their non-handling of EDL march at Brighton station. Racial abuse shouted
    and yet they did nothing
  • No BTP presence after 11pm at Brighton Mainline which is a cat A station
  • EDL march in London, BTP escorted EDL onto trains whilst holding paying
    passengers outside the stations.

Richard said that the best thing we can do to help improve their performance is to take a note of the numbers on their collar and if they don’t do anything constructive then feed this back.

Richard also explained that there are on 3,500 BTP officers across the whole of the UK. 6-10% of them have disclosed as LGB.

Resolutions

    1. International
      LGBT Rights

    Moved - Stratford No.1 Seconded – Finsbury Park

    For
    15; Against 0; Abstentions 5

      1. RMT National
        LGBT Advisory Committee

      Moved –
      Stratford No.1 Seconded – TfL No.1

      Carried unanimously

        1. Diversity
          Role Models
          tackling homophobia through education

        Moved
        - Finsbury Park Seconded – South Hants

        Carried unanimously

          1. Aviation
            industry forced gay
            flight attendant into a sham marriage

          Moved
          - TfL No.1 Seconded – East Kent

          For 18; Against
          0; Abstentions 2

            1. Campaign
              for Equal Marriage

            Moved
            - TfL No.1 Seconded – Birmingham Rail

            For 18; Against
            0; Abstentions 3

              1. ‘Gay
                Cure
                adverts on TfL Buses

              Moved
              - Jubilee South Seconded – Gloucester

              For 17; Against
              0; Abstentions 4.

              Resolutions i) and iii) won the vote to be sent to the AGM

              Pride Events

              World Pride, London Sat 7th July

              Info. to be confirmed and sent out soon. We have secured a walking party place and a stall. This year the theme is colours so that they can make a rainbow out of the march. Our colour will be confirmed and communicated closer to the date. Unity house will be the meeting place at 10am-11am. Anyone who wants more information let me know or keep watching on the RMT LGBT members Facebook group. I have also asked Bob Crow to attend, which is confirming in his diary. As many activists with their
              families and friends are welcome regardless of sexual orientation.

              Tolpuddle Martyrs Festival, Sun 15th July

              Coaches will be going as normal from Unity House, please see the regional council for more details. The LGBT as well as branch banners will be there so please make the effort to join us if you can. The march is normally starts at 2 or 3pm but in the morning is the ceremony at the gravestones and of course the festival itself goes on all weekend with camping available.

              Newcastle Pride 21st July – North East regional
              council are taking part

              Sunderland Pride 22nd Sept – North East regional
              council are taking part

              Other events

              Guided tour of East London – Sat 23rd June

              RMT LGBT Conference 2013 will be held in Blackpool, hosted by Blackpool
              and Fylde Branch

              2013 Chairperson – Paul Blair; Vice chair – Paul Penny; Liaison Committee - Matt James and Karl
              Davies.
              (All elected unopposed)

              A great event for all the 2012 conference had a really positive vibe to it, with energetic and enthusiastic delegates.

              Also conference raised £43 for the London Widows and Orphans Fund.

              Report For Solidarity Newspaper by one of the conference delegates

              Delegates to this year’s well-attended National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Transport Union LGBT Members’ Conference, held in Southampton on Friday 18th May, debated a range of issues including International LGBT rights; homophobic bullying in UK schools; equal marriage; and the banned Core Issue Trust advertising campaign on London buses promoting the ‘ex-gay’ movement and ‘’conversion therapy’.
              Delegates discussed the recent upsurge in religious and state-sponsored homophobia in many regions around the world. Conference noted with concern that across Africa, parliaments are currently advocating laws that would further penalise and even execute homosexuals; in Russia, the city of Saint Petersburg has recently passed a law making it illegal to speak in public about homosexuality; in Iraq, Shia militias are brutally murdering gay men and young men perceived to be gay; and in Iran, the theocratic regime continues to criminalise and oppress homosexuality.

              Conference also discussed the work of the charity “Diversity Role Models” to prevent homophobic and gender based bullying in UK schools and stop bullying before it happens by educating about differences in sexuality.
              Delegates passed all of the six resolutions discussed at conference.
              Two resolutions were sent to the RMT Annual General Meeting to be held later next month. The first resolution calls on the RMT to support campaigns against homophobia around the world and build international solidarity links with LGBT rights campaigners and trade unionists. The second resolution calls on the RMT to foster a working relationship with Diversity Role Models and run political campaigns to oppose cuts in funding to anti-bullying initiatives in the UK.