A follower of the SKWAWKBOX has contacted the blog with details of a situation of some concern. Her BLP (branch Labour party, a sub-group of the constituency Labour party or CLP) elected her to its executive as a joint-Secretary, because the candidates wanted to share the responsibility – which is not insignificant.
The CLP executive objected and referred the matter to the regional Labour HQ. On Friday, she received the following from the CLP Chair:
It appears Labour HQ considers that sharing a role on a branch or constituency ‘exec’ is a breach of the rules – one deserving of ‘further action’.
Labour has a stated aim of increasing the involvement of women at all levels, but banning a ‘job-share’ mitigates against the involvement of women, who are more likely to need shared roles because of family responsibilities.
The SKWAWKBOX would be surprised if the party’s position would stand up if legally challenged, as it appears likely to be intrinsically discriminatory. Below is the advice provided by the HR department of West Berkshire Council to its managers on the handling of ‘job-share’ requests:
While not an employment situation, the same principles of fairness and discrimination would apply – and the advice makes clear that individual requests have to be considered on their merits, so a blanket ban by Labour would be discriminatory.
Even without the legal issues, Labour’s commitment to equality and to achieving parity of involvement are well known, so the party needs to reconsider its position – and if a rule-change is required, so make sure this is done no later than at its annual Conference in Brighton in a few months. If the Greens can job-share their leader’s position, Labour can certainly manage it at a CLP level.
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