Equality role not gender-specific 2

July 21, 2006

I was shocked by the comments about the University and College Union's decision to give Paul Mackney responsibility for equalities.

I have worked closely with Mackney for several years. His track record on equalities is unparalleled in education: no one has done more to force employers and trade unions in these sectors to take all equalities issues seriously. He was instrumental in establishing the Commission for Black Staff in further education, he put issues surrounding part-time working, hourly pay and low pay - which disproportionately affect women, ethnic minority and disabled workers - firmly at the centre of his union's bargaining agenda. He has championed innovative and brave policies on sexuality and disabilities, often in an apathetic or openly hostile environment.

To assume that gender gives one an innate understanding of equalities is not only untrue, but also insulting to those who have been campaigning for and sticking their necks out on these issues long before it was fashionable to do so.

Christina McAnea National secretary, Unison

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