Thursday, March 03, 2011

Unequal cuts

Cuts don't fall evenly - and one institutional consequence of social progress over the past generation are the Equality Impact Assessments which now accompany proposals for redundancies and service cuts.

Working with an employer which applies the right test ('s_exact_test) to data illustrating the differential impact of redundancies it is possible to identify reorganisation proposals which have a (statistically significant) disproportionate impact on, for example, women workers.

The question then though is, as ever, what is to be done when this is found. Yesterday a union colleague and I were confronted with a tautological explanation of gender inequality in a redundancy situation. More women face redundancy, we were told, because we are cutting more of the jobs mostly done by women.

What then do we do with all these public sector equality duties? Can we win an argument that ploughing ahead in such circumstances is unlawful indirect discrimination? Will politicians who have committed to a cuts budget step make from discriminatory outcomes arising from that decision?

We shall see...

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