Last week saw PCS members working at the EHRC on strike. Their next day of action is a one-hour walkout on 11 May at 11am –12pm. We are now asking our partners to join us for this day of action in support of our campaign to save the Commission for future generations.
The government has already announced it is withdrawing funding for the commissions helpline and grants programme. the Commission has also decided to close its regional offices, including the office based in Birmingham covering the West Midlands Region. These decisions will take effect by March 2012.
At a time of unprecedented cuts that will hit the most vulnerable in society hardest I’m sure you’ll agree that it is vital to show the government that we will stand together to protect this vital service.
We will be assembling on 11 May 2011, 11am – 12pm at the rear entrance to the Commission’s Birmingham office, (EHRC 3rd Floor Lancaster House, 67 Newhall Street, B3 1NA) on the public footpath (on the corner).
The Commission is proposing to more than halve the number of staff from 460 to 200 within 12 months – PCS is calling on EHRC chair Trevor Phillips to reveal his plans for the future of the organisation, challenging him to define the ‘core functions’ which he claims will be protected. The government is currently consulting over the Commission’s future and is proposing to amend the Equality Act 2006 to strip the Commission of many of its key powers and duties.
When the Commission was formed in 2007 its budget was £70 million. This was later reduced to £60 million, then £53 million by the new government last year. The government now wants to cut funding down to £22.5 million by 2015.
Cuts on this scale would mean employers and public authorities would no longer be held to account if they carried out discriminatory policies, and would also effectively end the commission’s legal work – a recent example of which ensured six million carers in Britain are protected against discrimination in employment.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:
Our members are experts in their fields and this strike vote shows they are prepared to fight to maintain a proper national equality and human rights body at a time when government cuts are making it more likely people will face discrimination and disadvantage.
We do not accept the need for these cuts and the commission should talk to us urgently about the alternatives which would end the need for a strike and protect the vital services our members provide.
If you can’t join us on the day there are many other ways to support our campaign:
■ Ask your MP to sign Early Day Motion 923 to safeguard the remit, funding and staffing of the EHRC
■ Write to Theresa May MP, Minister for Women and Equality and other Minsters you or your organisation may have close links with asking them to maintain the EHRC functions servicing the communities.
■ Sign the petition http://www.gopetition.com/petition/43944.html. Please sign the online petition against EHRC cuts and ask your friends & family to sign.