Equal Opportunities Committee

Minutes of the Equal Opportunities (EO) Committee

March 14, 2005

The chairperson opened by welcoming the new members to the committee.

Review of the Terms of Reference of the Committee and the Role of Committee Members

The chairperson reviewed the main aims and objectives of the committee and reminded everyone that their role is mainly to provide support and guidance to members regarding equal opportunities issues. It is important to respect the communication protocol in place for UTE, that is, that issues are to be dealt with at the local and regional levels before being considered at the national level. Committee members are not to get involved in local issues. Agenda items are referred to the committee by the National President or by Convention. The intention is to have equity members share their concerns with their local representatives and to eventually get involved in the union.

This does not preclude committee members to respond to general inquiries relating to conferences, cultural issues, tax benefits, etc…

Networking

The main role of the committee members is to have and maintain a comprehensive network in order to communicate with the equity group members that they represent. In accordance with UTE policy, all communication must be in both official languages. The National office may translate short texts for distribution. It was recommended that everyone try to use their personal e-mail address.

Darlene will send an input call to locals asking them to recruit local contacts to be part of the equity seeking group member’s network. She will share the results with the committee.

PSAC does have a network in place. Our aboriginal representative tried unsuccessful to obtain a copy of the contact list. Linda will follow up with the Chairperson of the PSAC Equal Opportunities committee, Robyn Benson.

National Equal Opportunities Conference (UTE)

The conference was held in January at the Crowne Plaza in Ottawa. The committee reviewed the evaluation forms completed by the participants. The comments are very positive and indicate that the topics addressed in the plenary and in the workshops were appreciated. Copies of the evaluation forms will be sent to the committee members who were involved in organizing the conference.

The need to have a “men caucus” was questioned on a few of the evaluation forms. It was suggested that in the future, men be allowed to attend equity group caucus instead of having their own. A round the table discussion concluded that one or more equity group may object to this practice. Further discussions will be needed.

The chairperson informed the group that a number of resolutions dealing with Equal Opportunities conferences will be debated at the 2005 Triennial Convention.

Employment Equity Annual Report 2003-2004 (CRA)

The report was recently submitted to Parliament through Treasury Board. A copy of the report was given to the committee members and is also available on the infozone.

Employment equity activities dealing with promotion/development, hiring, retention, learning and training for each of the designated group are contained in the report. We will ask our regional representatives to review the report and confirm that such initiatives did take place.

There is a serious concern that the workforce reduction announced in the recent budget will have an impact on the equity group members.

Strategic Direction for Employment Equity (2005 – 2008)

In early January and February, the Employer consulted with the Senior Employment Equity coordinators and the union representatives to establish the strategic direction for EE in CRA.

The committee reviewed the issues, the strategic priorities, the goals and the supporting initiatives included in the report for each of the designated groups

It is very important that these initiatives be part of the regional employment equity plans. The initiatives should support the goals and priorities identified in the report. Regional plans for 2005-2006 should be available very soon.

Union-management consultation

It was explained that once a year, members of the committee meet with the director of Employment Equity and some of her officers to discuss various issues relating to employment equity and diversity. This practice will continue, preferably during the first six months of the year.

In addition, in the fall, there will be a multi-lateral, all union meeting to provide a complete update on the status of Employment Equity issues. The Director General, Employment, Organization and Operations Directorate will attend the multi lateral meeting. Unions (UTE, CEUDA, PIPSC) have been asked to select amongst themselves six union representatives. Discussion is underway with the other unions to select the number of representatives. It is our position, that based on the membership, the formula should be CEUDA (1), UTE (3-4), PIPSC(1-2).

“Employment Equity: What more Can the Union be doing”

This dissertation prepared by the president of the Kingston local, Dave Berofe was referred to the committee for discussion. It includes a number of observations and recommendations.

Within the Union

Issue: When it comes to diversity, the union representation attending Presidents conferences and conventions is still not proportionally representative of the diversity of our membership. You can still detect attitudinal bias and prejudices. Inappropriate comments are still being made.

Recommendation: Awareness education sessions on cultural differences at the Presidents conferences. This could be done by inviting a guest speaker or by asking members of equity seeking group members to share personal experiences.

Committee members will reflect on the two options and report back at the May meeting.

Issue: Although we hold Equal Opportunities conferences, there is a concern with the number of participants attending these conferences.

Recommendation: To initiate a survey to find out why equity members are not attending the conferences.

We will prepare a survey for the locals. Committee members have to think of two questions that would help us detect the reasons why some locals do not send observers to the EO conferences; are they ready to reimburse the National for monies received and not use for that purpose; why are there not more representatives from equity seeking groups.

With CRA

Issues:
• Lack of Employment equity/diversity joint committees at the local level
• Under-representation of the visible minority groups in small centres
• Language as a barrier to the hiring of visible minorities

A number of recommendations are mentioned.

The committee will address these issues at the next union management meeting.

Assessment of Competencies outside the Pre Qualification Process (PQP)

As an employment equity initiative, a region is proposing to give members of three designated groups: Aboriginals, Persons with disabilities and Visible minorities, an opportunity to have some of their competencies assessed without having to officially participate in the PQP selection process. In summary, they would select the competencies they would like to have assessed and they would select the assessment tools.

Some committee members have heard of this initiative being used in other regions for certain groups. It is usually referred to as “transitional staffing”.

Following discussion, the committee supports having competencies assessed outside of the PQP if the workforce analysis results indicate a gap in the region or particular location. There is a concern with allowing the employees involved having the option to select the assessment tools. One of the most serious obstacles to employment equity is the perception that designated group members are given a “preferred” treatment. This type of initiative, if not well implemented, could contribute to this perception.

This initiative should be transparent and part of the regional action plan. The committee will refer this document to the staffing committee.

Next Meeting

Members of the committee were advised that there is a possibility of a meeting sometimes during the last two weeks of May. We will also try to arrange a meeting with the employer.