LONDON, October 29 /PRNewswire/ --

A major Equality Reps' Conference of 400 delegates is being held today (29 October 2008) in London by Unite, the country's largest trade union.

The conference forms part of a two-year project to develop and train equality reps across the union. The project is receiving matched funding from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

Harriet Harman MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Minister for Equalities, is the keynote speaker at the conference, at which the union is launching its education programme and on-line networking for equality reps.

Unite Deputy General Secretary, Graham Goddard said: The union is committed to progressing equality at work. It is important that we have fair workplaces that are treating workers with dignity and respect.

The economic benefits to employers are well documented - research commissioned by the Dignity at Work Project revealed that the total cost of bullying and harassment to organisations in 2007 was GBP13.75 billion.

Organisations attract and retain the best employees and are more productive if equality is a central part of their ethos and strategy - which is why it is important that we have union equality reps that are working in partnership with employers to progress equality at work and make sure that members are aware of their rights.

Notes to news editors:

The conference is being held at the Institute of Education, Logan Hall, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL between 10.00 - 16.00.

Harriet Harman will be speaking at 10.45.

For further information: Shaun Noble Communications Officer +44(0)20-7420-8951 (direct line), +44(0)7768-693-940 (mobile)