THE UNIONS at Sunderland City Council have joined the management in pledging support to tackle discrimination, bullying, and harassment wherever it occurs.

Representatives from trade unions UNISON, GMB, and UNITE have all signed the #NoBystanders campaign pledge organised by national equality campaign group Stonewall.   

Sunderland City Council is committed to tackling inequalities and uses its active network of equality champions and advisors to support employees and promote equality, in all forms, right across the workforce and the community.

The trained staff work with colleagues to tackle behaviour that targets anyone because of their age, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or any other personal characteristic.

To widen the network still further  Sunderland City Council is encouraging all its workers and residents of the city to champion equality issues and sign up to the #NoBystanders campaign.

Cabinet Secretary Councillor Mel Speding, Chief Executive Irene Lucas, and Director of Strategy Partnerships & Transformation, Sarah Reed signed up to the campaign in the Council Chamber earlier in the year as a public demonstration of support for the national initiative.

Cllr Speding said: “Signing support for this campaign is recognition that we are all prepared to work together to address a national increase in reported hate crimes.

” We believe that our staff should be able to work in a positive environment where everyone is treated fairly. By promoting our commitment to tackling inequalities and our network of equality champions, we are increasing the support available to our employees to ensure that happens.”

Sunderland City Council has been part of the accredited Stonewall Workplace Equality Index for the last five years which recognises commitment to promoting acceptance and awareness of diversity in the workplace. It was also named as best new entrant in the 2016 Stonewall Education Index for its efforts to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) bullying amongst young people in schools, youth groups, organisations and community based settings.

Sunderland City Council’s Head of Human Resources and Organisational Development (HR&OD) and LGBT Equality Champion, John Rawling said: “We are asking people and organisations across the city, across the council and across our community partners to publicly sign-up for the campaign as a demonstration of support.

” Events like these public signings are part of that on-going process, with other groups and individuals such as senior managers the next to be invited to get involved.”

The signing  took place at one of the fortnightly meetings of union and personnel  to discuss issues concerning employees and residents.

Branch Secretary for Unison, Diane Peacock said: ” With our colleagues in the GMB and UNITE we have thousands of trade union members across the city, who are proud to be the latest group to support this campaign and would invite others, whatever their political affiliations or interests, to sign-up and publicly support Stonewall #NoBystanders.”

Stonewall Regional Programmes Manager Dan Hattle added: “We’re delighted that Sunderland City Council are supporting the No Bystanders campaign, and taking a stand against hate and prejudice. Fear of difference, whether that’s based on sexual orientation, trans identity, ethnicity or anything else, drives hate and division between our communities.

” We can only succeed in tackling hate if we all play a part and Council employees and city residents can all help make Sunderland a safe and inclusive place for everyone.”