Select Committee on Education and Employment Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum from Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU)

  The T&G takes discrimination against older and younger workers very seriously and recommends that all our negotiators include age equality in any equal opportunities policies and agreements. We have also produced a Model Policy on Age Equality which includes a statement to the effect that the Union and the Employer welcomes workers of all ages, as well as specific policy on recruitment and retention, promotion, training, redundancy and terms and conditions.

  In answer to the specific questions, we reply as follows:

In what ways and to what extent are older workers treated less favourably than younger workers as a result of age?

  The T&G are aware of the cases where older workers have been selected for redundancy purely on the basis on their age. We are also aware of cases where age limits are placed on promotion and training opportunities. We have, of course, represented these workers and try to ensure that we work with employers to make certain that their policies are not discriminatory against any groups of workers, including older workers. We have often found that discrimination against older workers is underpinned by stereotyping based on prejudice. Unfair assumptions are made, such as, older workers are harder to manage, do not accept change easily, are less productive, less healthy or do not fit in with the image the organisation is trying to portray. These are, of course, untrue and often it is a case that the opposite is in fact nearer to the reality.

What benefits do promoting age diversity in the workplace offer to employers and employees?

  Both employers and employees are able to value older workers for the experience and skills they bring to the workplace and the organisation as a whole benefits from having a diverse workforce that represents a diverse society. Employers who recruit and retain a cross section of workers tend to benefit from lower staff turnover and a wide range of experience.

In what circumstances (if any) is the use of age as a criterion for the recruitment and retention of employees justified?

  Age should not be used as a criterion for recruitment and selection, but as far as possible, all efforts, including advertising, training etc., should emphasise that workers of all ages will be welcomed. Recruitment and retention should be based on ability, skills and the needs of the job.

How effective is the Government's Code of Practice in promoting age diversity in the workplace?

  The T&G know of employers who have either been unaware of the Code of Practice or have not taken it seriously. In our experience, employers are much more likely to take legislation seriously than voluntary codes of practice.

In what ways do other Government policies such as the New Deal help or hinder older workers, especially unemployed job seekers?

  Any efforts to assist unemployed job seekers into the workplace, particularly those who may be discriminated against in the labour market, such as older and young workers, are very welcome.

Is there a case for anti-discrimination legislation and, if so, what should provisions include?

  The T&G support the case for legislation in this area. We believe that employers will only take effective action if legislation is introduced, reinforced by trade union input and that a culture is created in the workplace that welcomes the diversity of a mixed-age workforce. Provisions should include:

    —  a clear definition of an "older worker" and "younger worker";

    —  examples of the types of discrimination that would be unlawful;

    —  provision to take employers to employment tribunals;

    —  a Code of Practice with examples of positive action that can be taken;

    —  an enforcement body that can assist with cases and take action against persistent offenders;

    —  areas of particular concern such as recruitment and redundancy;

    —  the effects of multi-discrimination, particularly on women, ethnic minorities and disabled people who are older and younger workers.

Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU)

January 2001

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