The hidden impact of cuts

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2013 National Women's Conference
15 October 2012
Carried as Amended

Conference recognises that the brunt of this government’s cuts and austerity measures are being borne by women.

1) The number of unemployed women is at a twenty five year high, with more than a million women already jobless, and hundreds of thousands of public sector workers set to join their ranks. Further, UNISON research reveals that Black and disabled women are being disproportionately selected for redundancy;

2) Public sector jobs and services, provided primarily by women, are not only being sold off to the private sector, but also these women are facing cuts to their terms and conditions in both private and public sector;

3) In both the private and public sector, we are seeing the increased use of zero hours contracts; changing shift patterns with no account taken of women’s caring responsibilities or work life balance; the removal of enhanced payments for anti-social hours and other indirect pay cuts and the prospect of regional pay which would widen the gender pay gap and further impoverish poor communities;

4) The impact of universal credit is not yet fully revealed, but already hundreds of thousands of working parents have lost out through the government’s change to working tax credits, with parents facing the impossible task of finding additional work hours in a climate of job cuts and redundancies;

5) Services provided primarily for and by women are being decimated by the cuts, particularly those services for LGBT, Black and disabled women, but also including the closure of sure start centres, libraries, women’s advice centres, leisure facilities, after schools clubs – the list is endless;

6) Women’s safety is being put at risk, both through the closure of by women/for women services to support women experiencing domestic and other forms of violence, but also through the privatisation of police staffs, who provide dedicated violence against women services. Police privatisation may mean you could be dealing with a private company when you ring 999, walk into a police station and talk to the front desk, have a crime investigated, are visited by a police forensic team, use victim support services, and are taken into custody – and with no recourse to the police complaints commission if you are dealt with badly.

Conference calls upon the national women’s committee to:

a) continue to work within UNISON’s structures and with community and partner organisations to highlight the impact of the cuts on women, and to campaign and lobby for the protection of decent public services, with staff properly rewarded for the work they do;

b) work with UNISON’s police and justice service group and the ending violence against women (EVAW) sector to raise awareness of the implications of police privatisation for women, and to campaign for publicly provided and properly funded EVAW services;

c) work with the NEC, Labour Link and partner organisations to campaign for a fair welfare system which protects the vulnerable and does not demonise those needing state support.