Unison moves to tackle biphobia

UNISON is Britain’s biggest trade union representing 1.3 million public sector workers writes Craig Nelson. It has long had a high profile commitment to equality for all its members and to tackling discrimination. Part of its equality strategy has been through self organised groups for women, black members, disabled members and lesbian and gay members.

Although some bisexual members have participated in the lesbian and gay group, their involvement has been hidden and, in the past, bisexual issues have not been specifically highlighted in publications and campaigns.

Bisexual members have called for change and now UNISON’s lesbian and gay group is seeking to put this right. Last year, at the lesbian and gay group’s request, the union rule book was amended to specifically include bisexual and transgender members in the anti-discrimination and fair-representation rules.

We are now campaigning for a rule change to replace the lesbian and gay group with a new LGBT group. We are also calling on every part of our union to address bisexual and transgender equality in their work. Our factsheets on bargaining for equality for LGB and T workers are on our website at www.unison.org.uk/out.

The rule change to create the new LGBT group will be debated in June of this year and we are pulling out all the stops to make sure it is agreed by the necessary two thirds majority. This is not yet a done deal – if you’re a UNISON member, and you’re out in your branch, make sure your branch knows that you support the rule change and you want your representatives to vote for it at National Delegate Conference in June.

You can also have your say on the UNISON website www.unison.org.uk/out, where you will find further information about our campaign to become an LGBT group.

We’ve come a long way since the debates all those years ago about the ‘lesbian and gay only’ policy for our self-organised group. It’s taken us a while, but we are determined that UNISON will be genuinely bi-friendly. We are working hard to get the rule change passed at the whole-union National Delegate Conference this summer and to make sure that the change isn’t merely cosmetic.

Together, we will speak up for our rights at work and improve each other’s lives. For further information, contact Carola Towle National LGBT Officer at UNISON 1 Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9AJ or e-mail [email protected]