Cuts at the heart of TUC Women's conference
22nd March 2012
Shocking stories were told at this year's TUC Women's
Conference about how cuts and austerity are affecting women, from
job losses and benefit cuts, to a rise in instances of rape and
Public sector cuts are expected to lead to tens of thousands of job losses and with women making up the majority of the public sector workforce this will disproportionately hit female employment. This has already led to a record rise in the number of women out of work, reversing decades of steady improvement in women entering the labour market.
The CWU delegation had a busy conference, speaking on
motions concerning childcare, flexible working and domestic
violence. CWU equality officer Linda Roy moved
motion 12 on childcare using the example of the Mount Pleasant
Nursery campaign which has saved the facility for postal workers in
London. "There's growing evidence that encouraging
flexible working is good for business," she told conference.
As people are finding their budgets squeezed by pay freezes, job losses and price rises many families are turning to pay day loans or loan sharks for short-term boosts. Conference heard stories of extortionate inflation rates, with one union member borrowing less than £10,000 but being hounded to make repayments of £140,000. When women were unable to repay loans, shocking incidents of rape or forced prostitution as payment were reported.
Transport unions Asleft, RMT and TSSA explained the impact
that cuts to station staff were already having. A train driver
spoke about witnessing a violent attack at a dimly lit station only
to find when she phoned it through that there were no staff at the
station so called the emergency services. A blind Musician's
Union member spoke of the importance of train staff for her to
safely access services and of how the lack of them on one occasion
led to her falling on the track.
Among these personal stories of violence and suffering came
warnings of cuts in education, another women-dense area of
Despite the shocking and at times depressing news about
women's employment and rights, a wide range of inspirational
speakers demonstrated the importance of empowering women in
business, communities and politics.
For more information visit TUC.