LU's Latest Equality Assessment of its Job Cuts is "Shocking" and "Inadequate"

In light of discussions so far at the Equality review, London Underground has revised its Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) for staff only. (We have asked the company to also revise its EqIA for passengers.)

The new EqIA table for staff:
1. considers only displacement, not any other aspect of the job-cutting OSP, and how these may affect equality groups
2. only considers whether various equality groups are more likely to have been displaced, not any other aspect of displacement, eg. increased travelling time, less suitable work location, and whether this may have a disproportionate effect on equality groups
3. uses a faulty calculation of “tolerance” which enables it to overlook significant impacts on equality groups
4. reveals a significantly disproportionate effect of displacement on some women and some ethnic minority and faith groups
5. proposes to do nothing to rectify the negative impact on black and ethnic minority staff or on members of faith groups
6. considers only minor mitigations in its action plan, which will have very little effect, will not undo any damage done, and crucially, does not even consider restoring any cut jobs

1. The revised EqIA is titled ‘STAFF DISPLACEMENT REVIEW’, and considers only staff displacements in its assessment. Legally, LU must carry out an EqIA of its policy ie. the Operational Strategic Plan (OSP) rather than of just one aspect of it (staff displacements). As a result of its failure to do so, impacts of the OSP on staff such as increased workload, lone working, anti-social hours etc, are simply ignored by this EqIA.

2. The preamble to the EqIA table acknowledges that there will be some increase in time spent travelling to and from work, but dismisses this by stating that the increases “are not considered unreasonable”. No evidence or argument is given to substantiate this. No consideration is given to the impact of this increased travelling time on different equality groups, for example the difficulties created for staff needing to drop off or pick up children from school or nursery, or for disabled staff to attend appointments.
Further, the document claims that for travel before start of traffic or after close of traffic, “it is not anticipated that any specific equality group will be impacted disproportionately.” Again, no evidence or argument is given to substantiate this. This is despite the fact that women staff have often expressed fear of attack when waiting for staff taxis and/or walking to/from drop-off points at night, and members of other equality groups vulnerable to attack may have similar concerns. Travel difficulties at extreme hours may also impact on staff with certain disabilities.
The EQIA preamble does list among the mitigations in question 5b: Requests for reversal or alternative moves considered and implemented owing to specific personal issues where specific obligations exist. This should be widely publicised to staff, and the union should encourage members to take this up.

3. The table attempts to establish whether each equality group has had its members displaced in disproportionate numbers. It does this by comparing the proportion of each equality group amongst displaced staff in each grade, and the proportion in that grade before OSP. The document states that the allocation of a ‘negative equality impact ‘ categorisation is “based upon a 5% tolerance between data sets (i.e. displaced staff > 5% than pre OSP) will trigger a negative equality impact.”
However the actual comparison allows a difference of not 5% but 5 percentage points – a greater, in some cases far greater, ‘tolerance’ that allows the analysis to ignore significant differences.
For example – 2% of SSMFs are young (<25), but 6% of displaced SSMFs are young. 6% is three times 2%; 6% is 300% of 2%; the difference between them is 200% of 2% or 66% of 6%. And yet, because the difference can be presented as 4 percentage points (which is less than 5!), this major disparity does not trigger a ‘negative equality impact’ where there clearly is one.
This is a serious methodological flaw in the analysis which must be rectified. The tolerance level should be set and implemented in terms of percentages, not percentage points.

4. Even LU’s understating EqIA calculation reveals some groups suffering a disproportionate negative equality impact, as follows:
- women SAMFs (36% of displaced staff vs. 29% of staff in grade)
- black and ethnic minority SS1s (49% vs. 43%)
- black and ethnic minority SSMFs (69% vs. 39%)
- Christian SS2s (27% vs. 21%)
- Christian SSMFs (38% vs. 24%)
- Muslim SSMFs (13% vs. 6%)
These are very significant differences which in practice mean that members of these groups were displaced in much greater proportionate numbers than their workmates. (The exact differences in likelihood will depend on the proportion of the total number in that grade who were displaced, which is not included in LU’s document.)

5. Shockingly, LU proposes to do nothing about the negative impact on ethnic minority and faith groups. There appear to be two ‘reasons’ given for this:
For black and ethnic minority SS1s and SSMFs, the disparity is dismissed by the assertion that “The SS grade is only affected by the station re-grouping. The relatively high proportion of displaced staff arises from the consequent splitting of the reserve where many staff were not in fact moved.” It is inaccurate to state that displacing a member of staff from one (old) group reserve to another (new, different) group reserve amounts to not being moved. These staff have been moved, and will now work at a larger number of stations, with probably greater travelling time and more disruption to their work-life balance. These staff have suffered a detriment, that detriment has fallen massively disproportionately on black and ethnic minority staff, and it is appalling that LU has chosen to dismiss it so casually.
For the faith groups, LU’s pretext for inaction is that “There is no clear reasoning/explanation” for the significant disproportionate impact. It is simply not acceptable for an employer to refuse to act because it cannot explain its own findings. If LU cannot find the reason on the bare facts, it should dig deeper – it may, for example, find a correlation between the faith and ethnicity statistics, finding that those displaced may include many black Christians and/or Asian/Arab Muslims. But whatever the explanation, a negative impact is a negative impact, and it must be addressed. If LU cannot mitigate it, then it must withdraw the aspect of the policy that caused it: in this case, the group re-organisation.
(For faith groups, LU claims that the figures are skewed by people having the option to indicate “prefer not to say”. It offers no evidence, however, that this would skew the figures in the direction of negative equality impact rather than the opposite direction.)

6. The EqIA proposes to address the issue of the women SAMFs by including it in the Action Plan. However, this Action Plan proposes only ‘Positive Action’ for the future. We await detail from LU as to exactly what positive action it plans that it is not already using. However, this can only aspire to increase the proportion of women in LU grades in the future. While this may be welcome, it ignores the purpose of the EqIA, which is to identify the equality impact of the policy itself (ie. the OSP, which has already been implemented) and to amend that policy to remove or reduce negative equality impacts. It is hard to see how ‘positive action’ in the future will undo the detriment done to the disproportionate number of women displaced under the OSP.
Similarly, the Action Plan proposes to introduce a “robust 6 month review process”. While this is welcome, it is not sufficient. We are currently engaged in a review process, and we are addressing the OSP at the point of its implementation, not 6 months down the line.

Conclusion

The revised EqIA for staff is seriously inadequate. It must be revised again, thoroughly, to:
• include all impacts of the OSP on staff, not just displacement
• include all impacts of displacement, not just numbers/proportions of staff displaced
• calculate tolerance on the basis of percentage difference, not of percentage points
• further analyse the reasons for the negative equality impact on black and ethnic minority, Christian and Muslim staff
• adopt a serious action plan that includes amending or withdrawing aspects of the OSP itself, in particular restoring cut jobs and reconsidering the group reorganisation.

Janine Booth
March 2011

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