Equalities

Our Work QMUCU Equalities is a dedicated team of reps and officers working together on workplace policy and practice that has an equality dimension. As such, our work is wide-ranging and comprehensive, especially as we attempt to tackle workplace issues through an intersectional lens. The UK’s Equality Act (2010) identifies 9 ‘protected characteristics’ (age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, and pregnancy and maternity) that must be protected against workplace discrimination. We campaign for management to comply with the law and to go beyond it and work towards progressive policies and procedures. Our core mode of delivery is to work with our members to ensure minorities and protected workers have a voice and visibility in all QMUCU activities and campaigns. The Equalities Team QMUCU currently have a Disability Rep and a LGBT+ Rep and have established an anti-racism working group to help us fight racisim at QMUL. The post of Equalities Rep and Women’s Rep and Black Members Rep are currently vacant. If you are interested in getting involved, please send a message to ucu-coordinator@qmul.ac.uk. Anti-Racism Working Group The murder of George Floyd and the return to popular prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement, alongside the clear impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Black, Asian, and People of Colour (BAPoC), has given renewed impetus to an essential discussion over the systemic racism pervading our institutions. We, the newly elected representatives of QMUCU, QM UNISON and QMSU are grappling – like all others – with our own systemic patterns of privilege and exclusion, and we must confront the fact that we have not always done our best to enable discussion and action on this issue. We consider that the appalling responses of Queen Mary’s Senior Management to the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as its repeated refusals to take the issue of systemic racism at Queen Mary seriously, indicate its failure to recognise its own role in the reproduction of such racism. Its response to COVID-19, similarly, has failed to understand and act upon the disproportionate effect of the pandemic and of its economic consequences on BAPoC on our campuses. Anti-racism has been part of our work for some time, and was a central part of QMUCU’s Four Fights dispute which led to industrial action in the winter of 2019-2020. We could, however, have done far more focused anti-racist work, and embodied a more consistent intersectional approach. We cannot tackle the systemic racism at Queen Mary without doing more to tackle racism and the systemic centring of whiteness which often exists within our unions, however uncomfortable that is for some of us. There are no easy solutions but, with the above in mind, QMUCU is committed to:
  • support and undertake anti-racist work wherever racial injustice presents itself at our university and in our union, whether it does so explicitly in the form of racial prejudice, implicitly through microaggressions and gaslighting, or systemically through structural factors, particularly but not exclusively reducing Queen Mary’s large race pay gap and the under-representation of people of colour in QM staff at various payscales;
  • change our practices to give more space to comrades of colour;
  • welcome and enable a continuous introspection in our practices, past and present, and in how they contribute to reproducing racism;
  • endorse, actively reaffirm, and hold Queen Mary accountable to the demands that emerged out of the QM BAPoC gatherings (2019/2020), as well as the demands that are formulated by anti-racist activists on campus, in particular Decolonise QMUL and the African & Caribbean Society, and by members of staff who have actively called out systemic and institutional racism, sometimes to the point of leaving our institution, as was the case for former Diversity & Inclusion Manager Sandra Brown;
  • use our positions and act to hold Queen Mary accountable to those demands;
  • act to push the national-level UCU leadership, NUS leadership, UNISON leadership and our unions as a whole to call out racism wherever it presents itself, to support anti-racist work, and to be more consistent in embodying anti-racist practices and principles.
Our working group has been formed by QMUCU to establish ways to uphold these commitments. We welcome any union member or student to join, and invite contributions from both members and non-members on how we can do better as a branch to organise against racism at our institution. We also invite all our members as well as members of our University community, but particularly those who are white, to respond to this opportunity to listen, learn and take action. Among others, and following the very useful suggestions by Loughborough UCU, we invite you : More recommended books, resources, and advices for white colleagues at: https://ucu.lboro.ac.uk/lucu-statement-on-anti-racism/ Black Members Campaign UCU uses the term ‘black’ in a political sense to refer to people who are descended, through one or both parents, from Africa, the Caribbean, Asia (the middle-East to China) and Latin America. It refers to those from a visible minority who have a shared experience of oppression. We have initiated two key activities for black members in 2016.
  1. A regular black members meet and greet. These are regular meetings taking place throughout the year and usually over a Wednesday afternoon between 12-2pm in the Senior Common Room. The meet and greets provide a safe space for our black members to congregate, discuss topics and ideas that are relevant to black members work, research and day to day experiences.
Look out for emails advertising the next meet and greet.
  1. A black members discussion e-list. This e-list provides an online space for black members to connect and use the forum for discussing ideas or promoting seminars, trainings, events that are of interest to all black members. If you self-identify as a black member, please join the group: https://www.lists.qmul.ac.uk/sympa/info/blackmembers-qmucu
In 2017 we launched a campaign for QM to publish its missing four years of workforce diversity data, having been promised the data year after year in the university’s Equality and Diversity Steering group. The missing data campaign post includes a timeline and links to our campaign materials. In 2016 we started building a QMUCU Equalities network, with our first meeting on 27th January. We participated in the first ever UCU national day of action against workplace racism on 10th February. Watch this space for future actions. In 2015 we held an event joint with QM UNISON and Human Resources, focusing on race, ethnicity and religion at QM. Participant suggestions and contributions are summarised here. And in 2014 we surveyed members of QMUCU about ‘race and ethnicity in the workplace’. You can download the survey results here. You can access UCU Equalities resource and information here.

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