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Fingerpointing backfires

Wherever there are oppressed minorities, be sure there is a trade union sticking up for them with fringe meetings, pithy slogans and bullet- pointed motions

Wherever there are oppressed minorities, be sure there is a trade union sticking up for them with fringe meetings, pithy slogans and bullet- pointed motions

Wherever there are oppressed minorities, be sure there is a trade union sticking up for them with fringe meetings, pithy slogans and bullet- pointed motions. And so it was at the annual congress of the University and College Union (UCU). The first motion lambasted colleges for failing to implement equality legislation for disabled people, ethnic minorities and women.

Sadly, the glow of self-righteous indignation dimmed when delegates discovered an example of overlooking the needs of minorities somewhat closer to home.

The culprit? Er, step forward the UCU.

A blind delegate brought his comrades down to earth when he pointed out that the union had failed to print any copies of the annual report and agenda in Braille, which effectively barred him from taking part. The disability law came into force 18 months ago.

It must have come as a nasty shock to organisers who thought they were in the clear after correcting an earlier oversight. They had booked a hall without disabled access, but had spotted the problem and switched venues.

So it was perhaps not timely for Angela McConnell, chair of the union's equality committee, to claim the UCU is "far in advance of other unions when it comes to equality".

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