The crisis at the heart of Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission

David Isaac Pinsent Masons

David Isaac: Chairing a fractured organisation with staff and management now at loggerheads.

rebeccahilsenrath

Rebeacca Hilsenrath: chief executive of the Equality and Human rights Commission Pic credit: Douglas-Scott co.uK

CROSS POSTED ON BYLINE.COM

Human rights – whether it is gay rights, racial discrimination, gender equality, equal pay or disability discrimination – is at the heart of many of the big issues facing modern Britain today.

It is therefore a tragedy that the organisation responsible for monitoring such issues is now a fractured body with management at loggerheads with staff and the main focus of a destructive policy of government cuts by people who appear to believe there is no such thing as society and these rights are not necessarily worth defending.

Today this body came within a hair’s breadth of facing strike action by a frustrated and alienated staff  and the action was only averted by talks at Acas. Contrary to the popular image civil servants do not take strike action lightly – it is only a measure of last resort. So when two unions, the Public and Commercial Services Union and Unite, decided to take such action, things have reached crisis point.

Its crisis is not surprising when a body like this has suffered cut after cut until it is a shadow of its former self and people – including the United Nations – are questioning whether it can have any meaningful role in defending people’s rights.

The  gaping divide can be seen between the  perceptions of management and staff over what is happening there at the moment – I did an article on the forthcoming strike for Tribune last Friday.(unfortunately not on line at the moment) and one on the great divide between management and worker’s salaries for Sunday Mirror earlier which is the subject of a dispute by the Commission ( also not on line at the moment).

The present cuts whereby nineteen of the first 26 posts due to be axed are held by staff in the three lowest paid grades, means the government body responsible for protecting vulnerable workers is itself disproportionately targeting older, ethnic minority and disabled staff. Another 50 are expected to follow.

The union and staff reaction to this is shown by a quote from Mark Serwotka, the genetal secretary of PCS, “The commission is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on consultants while getting rid of low paid staff who provide daily support to victims of discrimination.

“It is sickening that as division and hate are being fostered in our communities in the wake of the Brexit vote, this Tory government is cutting the staff whose job it is to combat this.”

The management view is the opposite.

A Commission spokesperson said:“It is disappointing that the union have decided to take this action. We have made every effort to work constructively with them on our proposals as we implement our new way of working. We have listened to them throughout the process and acted on a number of their suggestions.

“Like every public sector organisation we have had cuts to our budget.  We need to make savings and we need to change how we work to deliver our strategic plan.  We are confident that any action will not affect the important work we do in protecting and improving people’s rights.”

“We have a very diverse workforce when compared to the wider public and private sectors.  The operating model was consulted on exhaustively with all staff, transparently and with a focus on the most effective structure for the Commission rather than the individuals in the posts affected. In addition to this, there will be a stronger focus on new training and mentoring schemes to support more minority ethnic and disabled staff into leadership positions.”

Given human rights is a central issue in Britain I have decided to forensically examine what is exactly going on at the EHRC. Can the top management justify its large salaries at the taxpayers’ expense? Is running the EHRC just a career option for an elite group of officials and a millionaire lawyer ?  What issues are the EHRC  really taking up and are they effective in doing so? Who are the people they want to sack from their organisation? Is the EHRC  really value for money?:Do they practice what they preach to private industry and the public services?

Fortunately  I have seen a large volume of material from a wide variety of sources – far too much to put in one blog or article – that  allows me to look at such issues. Over the next few weeks I intend to examine this and put it to the EHRC and other scrutiny bodies, like Parliament’s Women and Equalities Committee, which is preparing to examine whether the EHRC is doing a proper job.

 

3 thoughts on “The crisis at the heart of Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission

  1. Reblogged this on | truthaholics and commented:
    “Given human rights is a central issue in Britain I have decided to forensically examine what is exactly going on at the EHRC. Can the top management justify its large salaries at the taxpayers’ expense? Is running the EHRC just a career option for an elite group of officials and a millionaire lawyer ? What issues are the EHRC really taking up and are they effective in doing so? Who are the people they want to sack from their organisation? Is the EHRC really value for money?:Do they practice what they preach to private industry and the public services?”

  2. Hello David,
    Can the top management justify its large salaries at the taxpayers’ expense? This should be a question posed not just to the EHRC but throughout National & Local Government and the NHS. In one Local Authority many in the lowest grades where giving redundancies and those without permanent contacts faced reduced hours or had their p45 sent through the post with a covering letter and others transferred to a multi national company, with a question left over their pensions.
    A year or so previously the council created a number of new senior posts with very large salaries, then the councils most senior officer retired. The post was advertised with a much increased salary and a lower work load. When questioned why the council had increased the salary, the leader of the council claimed it was to attract the right calibre of person. It was obvious there was a strategy behind this and it had nothing to do with the running of the council, it allowed senior officers to request higher salaries.

    I look forward to your coming articles, but I suspect nothing will change as long as we leave our public servants at the top to dictate the terms of their salaries and conditions of employment.

  3. Beats me why anyone would be surprised by these developments. The government don’t give a toss about our human rights, or anyone else’s, that’s why they still sell arms to Saudi Arabia et all. People need to wake up to the Military Industrial Complex Eisenhower warned us about as he left office, and Kennedy told us was such a danger, which got him killed by his own secret service. It’s all part of the plan folks, just like the withdrawal of Legal Aid.
    Money talks, and if you ain’t got any, you ain’t got a voice. Justice is for the rich.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s