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Equality & wellbeing

Get the latest equality and wellbeing news, including our interview with Cheyenne Jones, Accord Rep & Halifax ABM - plus much more.

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Black History Month

Every year, Black History Month provides an opportunity to reflect on the contributions that Black people and communities have made to Britain, to our workplaces and to the trade union movement.

We can celebrate workers like Paul Stephenson, who in 1963 was one of the leaders of the Bristol Bus Boycott. At that time, the Bristol Bus Company and the Transport and General Workers Union collaborated to stop Black workers from being hired as bus drivers or conductors. Paul and other Black workers fought back and won - not only breaking the colour bar on Bristol’s buses but also paving the way for the Race Relations Acts of 1965 and 1968, which banned employers from discriminating against people based on the colour of their skin.

This story reminds us that for decades, Black workers have been leaders in our communities, workplaces and unions. But it also shows that while trade unions should always be at the forefront of the fight against racism, unfortunately we can also be part of the problem.

The TUC’s Anti-Racism Task Force has scrutinised the trade union movement and found that no unions are exempt from institutional racism. There is still some way to go before the movement stands for black workers fully and the Task Force has outlined an ambitious five-year plan for change.

Accord is committed to playing its part in this work. As part of our Race Action Plan, we’ve set ourselves the goal of ensuring that Accord’s membership is representative of the ethnicity of all LBG staff, and that our reps reflect that too.

We’ve made good progress since our plan was launched in 2021. We’ve improved the level of ethnic diversity among members, Accord staff, and the Principal Executive Council. But there’s still work to do to ensure that the number of Black, Asian and minority ethnic reps is proportionate to the number of members from those backgrounds.

This is important because we know that our Black members still aren’t getting an entirely fair deal at work. According to the most recent Ethnicity Pay Gap report published by Lloyds Banking Group, the median ethnicity pay gap in the group sits at 12.6%. And Black colleagues are worst affected, facing a pay gap of 17.5%. At TSB, the median ethnicity pay gap for the same period was 13.1%.

Both LBG and TSB have committed to narrowing these gaps, and Accord will continue to work with them to promote greater diversity, equality and inclusion.

Interview with Cheyenne Jones, Accord Rep & Halifax ABM

We talk to Cheyenne Jones, Accord Rep & Halifax Assistant Branch Manager in Suffolk about her time with Accord, how she got involved and why representation

Hi Cheyenne. Can you tell us a bit about your career and how you got started in the union?

I started my career at Halifax over 8 years ago. Originally, I was a Customer Adviser, I then quickly moved on to being a Customer Service Consultant. I enjoyed that job but soon realised that my interests were in management. With the help from my incredibly supportive Senior Banking Manager at the time, I was promoted to Assistant Branch Manager, which is where I am now.

How did you get involved with the union?

I joined the union as soon as I started with Halifax. There had been loads of praise around it in my training and I thought it seemed worthwhile - and that has absolutely proved to be the case.

The union rep role became available soon after I started at the Halifax and a few of my colleagues suggested that I take the role on, so I did, and I’ve never looked back. I wanted to be a part of Accord because they really care and fight for what’s right. People have always said that I’m easy to open up to, so if someone being treated unfairly opens up to me and there’s something I as a rep can do to help, I absolutely will. It also helps to know that colleagues in Accord have compassion for all situations they come across. For the 8 years I’ve been a Rep the support I’ve seen them supply is invaluable.

Would you encourage other Black and minority ethnic colleagues to get more involved in the union?

I’d encourage more Black and minority ethnic colleagues to become reps to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. 

Colleagues from less diverse areas experiencing prejudice/racism may find it hard to talk to someone they don’t think will understand, while if they had a Black rep it may make it easier for them to come forward and share how they’re feeling.

What do you think are the big challenges facing Black workers and people of colour at work?

I think one of the biggest challenges facing Black workers or people of colour at work is under-representation in managerial roles. The only positive (if you can call it that) to come out of recent unfortunate events in the world (George Floyd, Black Lives Matter etc.), is that EVERYONE is becoming more aware of the prejudice that does exist out there; it can’t be ignored now. A huge positive is that Lloyds Banking Group isn’t just acknowledging it, they are trying to proactively change it so that they are a more inclusive employer and they have made pledges to make it measurable and achievable, which is great to see. Now it would just be nice to see it materialise.

Last question. For Black History Month, can you tell us about a Black person who inspires you?

A Black person that inspires me is Rosa Parks. She was the main reason for the Montgomery Bus Boycott. She played a vital part in Black people being seen as equal, rather than inferior. Together she and Martin Luther King Jr helped shape the world we live in today. She showed bravery and courage to stand up for what was right, even though she didn’t know the full repercussions. The fact she stayed calm even whilst being arrested, showed she was willing to give up her freedom to help equality for every Black person from that day forward. There should never have been racial segregation, but back then to stand up and fight against the odds just to be treated as equal - not better - is truly breathtaking!

Action is urgently needed to close the disability pay gap

Disability pay gap stats - disabled workers earn £67 per week less than non-disabled workers - that's more than the average household spends on greoceries a week

Tuesday 14th November is Disability Pay Gap Day. It’s the day when the average Disabled worker stops getting paid for the rest of the year, compared to the average non-disabled worker. This means that that Disabled workers will work 47 days without pay this year.

Although the disability pay gap has fallen in comparison to research published in November 2022, disabled workers are still earning £1.90 less per hour than non-disabled workers. That’s a pay gap of 14.6 per cent and means Disabled workers take home £3,460 a year less than non-disabled workers - for doing the same work.

To put this into context, that's £66.50 per week – over what the average household spends on their weekly food shop (£62.20). Although economic cost pressures may be easing right now, there's no doubt we're all still feeling the impact of the cost-of-living crisis.

What's more, the TUC's new analysis highlights the lack of progress on tackling the disability pay gap. In 2013/14 (the first comparable data available) it was 13.2%. And it's only now factionally just below the 15% first reported by the TUC using the data from 2016/17.

And the gap is even bigger for Disabled women. Non-disabled men are paid on average 30% more than disabled women. That equates to huge £6,780 a year.

The research also shows that the disability pay gap persists for workers for most of their careers. At age 25 the pay gap is £1.73 an hour hitting a high of £3.18 an hour, or £111.30 a week, for disabled workers aged 40 to 44.

Further analysis shows that there are regional and industrial differences in the pay gap too. The highest pay gap is in Wales (21.6% or £2.53 an hour), and in financial and industrial services where the pay gap stands at a huge 33.2% (£5.60 an hour).

New deal for working people

The TUC is calling for government action to end the discrimination disabled workers face in the jobs market.

The union body says Labour’s New Deal for Working People would be a “game changer” for workers’ rights.

Labour has pledged to deliver new rights for working people in an employment bill in its first 100 days.

Labour’s new deal would:

  • Introduce disability and ethnicity pay gap reporting.
  • Strengthen flexible working rights by introducing a day one right to work flexibly.
  • Ban zero-hours contracts to help end the scourge of insecure work.
  • Give all workers day one rights on the job. Labour will scrap qualifying time for basic rights, such as unfair dismissal, sick pay, and parental leave.  
  • Ensure all workers get reasonable notice of any change in shifts or working time, with compensation that is proportionate to the notice given for any shifts cancelled or curtailed.
  • Beef up enforcement by making sure the labour market enforcement bodies have the powers they need to undertake targeted and proactive enforcement work and bring civil proceedings upholding employment rights.

It’s time for a step change. Labour’s New Deal for Working People would be an absolute game changer for disabled workers - Paul Nowak, TUC General Secretary

Faith & Belief Network launched at TUC Congress

A new Trade Union Faith and Belief network was launched at this year’s TUC conference in Liverpool. The network aims to start an ongoing dialogue between unions, faith organisations and community groups.

There is plenty of common ground between faith organisations and unions, around issues like the dignity of labour, the importance of workers’ rights, and the problems of poverty and inequality. As Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, told the TUC in its 150th year: “it is for us to bring justice, for Trade Unions, church, for government, everyone in society.”

The new network was launched at a fringe meeting in Liverpool, chaired by TUC President Maria Exall and NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach.

Maria said:

I’m delighted to launch this new trade union faith and belief network. Unions want to work more closely with faith organisations and local groups to find long-term solutions to the social and political challenges our communities are facing. This new coalition will bring together community activists and trade unions to support real terms pay rises, an end to food poverty, a reduction in energy bills, decent homes for all and an increase in taxation on those at the top end of society.

Patrick added that "our communities are stronger when we work together, united in common purpose, and the launch of the network is part of our shared mission to secure a better deal for workers and families.”

Accord poster - why I'm talking about menopause with a picture of a man giving reasons

World menopause day

World Menopause Day is held on 18 October each year, a day to break down stigma, raise awareness and highlight the supports available to people going through menopause.

In recent years, menopause has been taken increasingly seriously as a workplace issue. And this year, a woman has made legal history by taking her employer to an employment tribunal over alleged menopause discrimination.

Maria Rooney, a former social worker, alleges that she was forced to leave her job by Leicester City Council after she took extended sick leave due to severe menopause symptoms. The case is the first to treat these symptoms as amounting to disability for the Equality Act, allowing it to be heard before the tribunal.

At Accord, we never want things to get that far. Our priority is to work proactively with Lloyds Banking Group to ensure that colleagues have the information and support they need to navigate this major life transition, however it affects them.

In 2021, we worked with Lloyds to develop improved menopause guidance, and since then Accord has offered training for reps and staff, an awareness webinar hosted with the Bank Workers Charity, and guidance which offers practical tips and signposts sources of support. We have also created a network of menopause advocates, who can offer individual support and guidance.

“It’s all about conversations and being able to talk about it,” says Accord Vice President Carol Knowles, explaining that once people can raise issues without worrying about being mocked or undermined, then practical supports can be found. For example, she encourages colleagues who find their workspace too warm to order desk fans via Buying@LBG, and is in conversation with the bank to ensure that when new uniforms are designed, they will accommodate the changes in women's bodies throughout their lives.

Anyone looking for further information can visit the Accord website or contact a menopause advocate in their area.