Women in Local Government

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2008 Local Government Service Group Conference
22 February 2008

Public sector workers are increasingly more likely to be women and to work part-time than private sector workers. In 2004, 65 per cent of public sector workers were women, compared with 41 per cent of private sector workers. Around 30 per cent of public sector workers worked part-time compared with 24 per cent of private sector workers.

For women working in local government, however, the continued outsourcing and cuts to those services provided primarily by women workers – in particular those working in the 3 Cs, caring, catering and cleaning – means that their terms and conditions, pensions, long term employment security and earnings potential are increasingly under threat.

The public sector equality duties on race, disability and gender remove many of the barriers to progression for women working in local government, particularly for black women and disabled women who face greater and multiple discrimination in the private sector. In addition the local government equality standard is intended to mainstream age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation into council policy and practice, although it is now only a voluntary best value performance indicator, However, once services are privatised those duties become ineffective despite the various requirements for private or voluntary sector organisations that carry out public functions to comply with the general duties.

Conference therefore calls on the Service Group Executive to work with the wider union, including Labour Link, to :

1)Lobby the Government to halt the privatisation and marketisation of local government services;

2)Publicly campaign to raise awareness of the impact of cuts in services on local communities;

3)Use the Gender Equality duty as a tool to oppose outsourcing and cuts in services;

4)To continue to work with the national community and voluntary sector forum and regions to ensure the effective recruitment and organisation of members transferred from local authorities.