Women workers hit hard by austerity
TODAY, March 8, is International Women's Day when we celebrate the achievements, social, political and economic of women and campaign for extending rights and freedoms.
Throughout the country events are being held to mark the day. Here in Plymouth a discussion with poetry and songs is to be held from 6pm, at Onward House, Greenbank.
Despite 40 years of equal pay legislation woman still earn 15 per cent less than men with long hours culture, lack of flexible work opportunities and expensive child care provision contributing to the counting gap.
The current austerity programme threatens to throw the process into reverse with women hit hardest by cuts to public sector jobs, benefits in health and education and stagnant wages. Local government is in the third year of a pay freeze, and 270,000 jobs have been lost nationally in the areas where UNISON recruits.
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The majority of our members are women with three quarters of the workforce in local government and the NHS. It is no co-incidence that women have been in the forefront of campaigns against service cuts and closures, such as our 'A million voices for public services'. There is a real fear for jobs, how squeezed incomes can be managed and what privatisation means as multinational companies wait like vultures to bid for public services.
Where unions are strong, we are able to provide an effective voice for our members, ensuring that they are not bullied or burdened with excessive workloads, that they are paid at least a living wage and that the conditions under which work is undertaken are safe and reasonable. Next week UNISON launches its' March recruitment drive. We want to be the most effective voice protecting our members in the workplace.
Chair, City of Plymouth Branch UNISON