Wednesday, 20 May 2009

From the Record

Leanne Wood: You have already been asked about proposed funding cuts at Cardiff University’s centre for lifelong learning, but I wish to raise a different aspect of those cuts. Over the past five years, Cardiff University has made a profit of £45.4 million. However, it claims that the lifelong learning department will lose between £200,000 and £300,000 a year after the equal pay assimilations have been made. This point was confirmed by the First Minister earlier.

In my view, this is a discriminatory proposal. Staff at the centre are largely paid by the hour, and so they are not entitled to the same terms and conditions as full-time lecturers. They are not entitled to sick pay, leave, equal pay or the university superannuation scheme pension benefits. Some 70 per cent of the hours taught in the centre are taught by women, and 30 per cent are taught by men, and, in the main, these are part-time jobs. Therefore, it is clear that these cuts will disproportionately affect part-time women workers—those same workers who have campaigned with their trade unions for equal pay are about to lose out because of this proposal. I am sure that you will agree that that is a perverse situation.

I know that Ministers have received representations about the general issue of course losses and so on, but I would be grateful if you could ask the Minister for Social Justice and Local Government, who also has responsibility for equal opportunities, to look at the situation in Cardiff University’s lifelong learning centre to see whether the university’s proposals amount to gender discrimination. If he finds that they do, will you ask him whether he is able to intervene and then report back to the Assembly with his findings? I am able to provide further information to you and the Minister for social justice if that is required.

Carwyn Jones: With regard to Cardiff University, the issues you referred to are important, but they are staffing issues. Therefore, they are a matter for Cardiff University rather than for us as a Government. Nevertheless, I would encourage people to work through their unions to see what can be done, to discover whether there is a discrimination case and, if so, whether it can be taken forward. We must not forget that one of the many advantages of trade union membership is that unions have the ability to represent members in employment tribunals and look at cases such as this. There is no question that you have raised an important issue. We know that discrimination does not have to be overt, as it was in the 1960s and 1970s, but that it can be hidden for many years. We are seeing what is happening now with the equal pay claims, which go back over a number of years in many public authorities in Wales. Nevertheless, I will pass your concerns on to John Griffiths.

1 comment:

Renegade Eye said...

I found this blog at the latest "Carnival of Socialism."

Good luck in struggle.