27 June 2013
Opening: Francis O'Grady, General Secretary of the TUC
Francis gave a rousing speech outlining achievements of the community over the years and recent success in US of overthrowing the Defence of Marriage Act. Also outlined the challenges internationally of our sisters and brothers facing persecution and execution for being LGBT. Addressed current challenges in the UK, especially hostility faced by trans community (Lucy Meadows), attacks on LGBT and other communities with erosion of the Equality Act 2010 and cuts in the name of austerity.
Inspired union members to continue fighting for democracy and progression of rights.
Maria Exall, Chair TUC LGBT
Spoke rousingly, elaborating on the effects of cuts instigated by the government and proposed campaigning on the basis of linking economic arguments correlated with the negative effects of the austerity agenda.
Mentioned the opponents we face in society from the right wing and certain faith groups that seek to stop progression of our rights and remove gains.
Covered the marriage debate and the irrationalities espoused by opponents. The real fear is that more civil rights for LGBT means more freedom for everyone.
CM, Unite, supported USDAW motion on Mental Health and spoke of her own case with great clarity and composure, addressing the need for support services for LGBT experiencing domestic abuse and mental health challenges.
Angela Eagle MP
Exploded the myth of Tories like Boris Johnson who claim to be LGBT friendly yet very late to the process and disingenuous as he was not there when the going was tough.
How committed are they to Equal Rights? More Tories voted against Equal Marriage than supported it. Cut the Commission for Human Rights by 30%. Simon Hughes and Shirley Williams voted against Equal Marriage.
Question to AE from Unite (Adam Umney): Campaigning for living wage at work and in Union … will Labour not only seek to pay Living Wage for public sector workers but also require employers to pay Living Wage where services are contracted out to private and not for profit sectors?
Answer: Labour Party seeking to pay Living Wage in local authority areas at this time that it controls and encourage/welcome private sector employers who do the same. Would like to see this taken further of course. Also covered issue of companies who site on land and not release for development in order to increase its value. Advised that union members go on the Labour Party website Your Britain and make views known and propose solutions. Angela said that Unite had an important part to play in policy debate happening now.
I spoke with Angela after the first part of the conference with reference to the Labour Party needing to develop good housing policy that addresses the needs of communities and not following the Tory agenda. Angela responded that the next Labour government will have to start from the position that the outgoing government leaves them in. I tried to make the point that it more about how the sector is managed/regulated rather than about finance and provided Angela with an example of what the Tories now define as Affordable rents…
A social landlord has a new development and is charging an ‘affordable rent’. To do this, the landlord approaches a private property consultant (RCIS certified) to provide them with the going market rental rate. The landlord will pay the consultant a fee for this figure, which is valid for 3 years and every year in that period the landlord may increase the rent by an inflationary figure. After 3 years, the landlord pays the consultant for another rent and the process starts again. This is called Rent Rebasing.
The Tories are calling Affordable Rents a fair rent system, which is perversion of actual Fair Rents as legislated by the Callaghan government in 1977. Rents are registered by the Rent Service (a public service) every 2 years and the landlord cannot charge more than that registered rent. Though the 1977 Fair Rents are based on market rents, they reduce them by a certain factor where the properties are social housing.
My point to Angela was that instead of the landlord paying £120+VAT for a rental figure per property to a private sector property company, why not have a smaller fee but to a public service and a truly affordable rent for the social housing sector? I further made the point that controlling rent was a much better way to control the benefit budgets than creating shortfalls in payments that put claimants in hardship ie. the Bedroom Tax.
I was advised to address policy proposals through Unite and meet with Jack Dromey MP who is working on Housing Policy (in addition to Your Britain).
The Unite motion addressed the issue of homelessness and how young LGBT are extraordinarily over represented in that social group and disadvantaged further through lack of appropriate support services.
Called on the TUC and affiliate unions to lobby government and Labour party to address this situation.
Motion moved by Adam Umney, who also highlighted how young people in general were a particularly over exploited and disadvantaged group in society.
Lesley Mercer, President of TUC, CSP.
Making the point that economics should be about improving peoples lives and that there is an alternative to austerity and pointed to the end of the Second World War when Britain created the NHS and invested heavily in the country to bring it out of social and financial crisis.
Plenary: EU and LGBT (notes)
“The Seville Manifesto”, XI ETUC Congress 2007 – the first commitment of the ETUC and member organisations to the LGBT communities:
• awareness raising activities
• action on prejudices
• exchange of experiences and best practices
Dr Stephen Whittle (Press for Change)
300 enquiries from trans people per year of which 200 are about problems at work. PFC endeavour to provide legal support though funds are limited, which is especially important in the light of slashes to legal aid.
Louise Ashworth, ILGA & UNISON NLGBT
Why is Unite not affiliated to ILGA Europe?
Anthony Smith, Age UK
Life changes that are experienced by people are often more intensely experienced by LGBT elders.
More often single, without immediate family, children and not out.
LGBT elders want dignity and respect in their lives as service users.
Service providers often claim they have no LGBT service users – closet.
Highland and Islands Rainbow Group – Elder LGBT in Scotland.
Need both separate and integrated services.
Elder LGBT need to come out to ensure dignity.
Being elder LGBT is not about problems – it should be something that is celebrated.