British women’s rights under attack

This video is called International Women’s Day 2012!!!

By Diana Holland in Britain:

Wednesday 12th March 204

With increasing attacks on women’s rights, now is the time for us to stand up and be counted, says DIANA HOLLAND

In Britain today, women are two-thirds of those earning less than the living wage, and the gender pay gap has started growing again.

Contrast this with what happened when the national minimum wage was introduced – two-thirds of those who benefited were women, and the gender pay gap was reduced.

This week, women in trade unions are coming together at the TUC Women’s Conference representing the diversity of working women across the country.

We know it is not working women, low-paid workers, pregnant women, mothers and carers who caused the global economic crisis and yet women are disproportionately paying the highest price.

Pregnancy discrimination is pushing 50,000 women a year out of the workforce and services relating to domestic abuse and violence against women and girls are being cut.

Across the world, poverty has increased and women are the majority of the 1.5 billion working people whose jobs do not provide enough to meet basic needs.

The onslaught on women’s income in Britain since 2010 from low and unequal pay and the austerity and cuts agenda has had a shocking and far-reaching impact on women, on families and on communities.

It has been reported that one in five mothers are missing meals to feed their children, and that the “£685 Christmas debt” built up by women last year was going to take an average earner 24 weeks, or a woman on the minimum wage a full year, to pay off. And it has been calculated that it takes 140 days for someone on the minimum wage to pay their gas bill alone.

Ten years on from the establishment of the Women and Work Commission following powerful demands from trade union women for a new deal and a fair deal for working women, we know that young women are facing fresh pressures – cuts to careers services and working for no pay, on a zero-hours contract or an unpaid internship is increasingly what is being offered.

We called in 2004 for strong measures to ensure progress could be achieved and maintained. In 2014, the lack of mandatory pay audits and statutory rights for union equality reps is still holding back progress on ending women’s poverty and closing the gender pay gap.

International Women’s Day on March 8 is a time each year to celebrate women’s achievements, and a time to rededicate ourselves to campaigning against the discrimination, inequality and injustice faced by women throughout the world.

Or as Alice Walker has described it, “We women have had to claim a day in order to be seen.”

Now is the time for women to be seen, for women to be heard and for policies that are about fairness and justice for women – not just in words, important though they can be – but in practice. Now is the time to move forward. We need action on women’s equality and to end women’s poverty.

Unite has supported the Charter for Women, together with the TUC Women’s Conference, and other individual unions. Now is the time when we need to unite around the aims of the charter which calls for action in society, at work and in the labour movement. And here are just some of the changes we need:

Equality at the workplace – and there are two changes that could make a big difference, statutory rights for union equality representatives and mandatory equal pay audits.

Support for mothers, fathers, grandparents and carers – that means properly paid leave and your job protected, accessible, affordable quality childcare and secure flexible working rights.

An end to the attacks on the Equality Act and the EHRC (Equality & Human Rights Commission).

Opposition to attacks on trade union and employment rights, which disproportionately affect people already facing discrimination. We need trade union freedom and employment rights from day one.

Opportunities for decent, safe jobs, training and apprenticeships, fair pay and pensions for all, with positive action to ensure no discrimination or unequal pay.

Restoration of rights and justice for migrant domestic workers. It was a shameful act by a shameful government to reintroduce modern slavery for migrant domestic workers by changing the visa we fought so hard to achieve. When it comes to putting a cross on the ballot paper, women will not forget.

Diana Holland is Unite assistant general secretary for equalities.

British Foreign Office pays female staff less than men: here.

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3 thoughts on “British women’s rights under attack

  1. Anger in Sweden at Nazi knifings

    Anti-fascist demonstrations took place across Sweden last Sunday in protest at a violent knife attack on four people returning from an International Women’s Day march in Malmo.

    Three men have been arrested following the attack which left the victims with multiple stab wounds. The Nazi Swedes Party has said its members were involved.

    Thousands marched in Malmo, Gothenburg and Stockholm with more protests set to place later this week.


  2. Pingback: Pay discrimination of British women | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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