The Gender Agenda

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2014 Local Government Service Group Conference
21 February 2014

Conference notes with dismay that cuts to pay and terms and conditions in local government are hitting women hardest across the UK. Local government is a highly gendered workforce – seventy-six per cent of National Joint Committee (NJC) workers are women, over half of all jobs are part-time and women carry out 90% of those part-time jobs. In Scotland, 67% of the local government workforce are women.

Conference also notes that women in local government hold the majority of posts at the bottom grades, often depending upon benefits to make ends meet. The Fawcett Society states that on average, benefits make up twice as much of women’s income as men’s. Low paid women in local government face overwhelming financial pressures. Childcare costs are spiralling upwards while 74% of cuts to benefits, tax credits, pay and pensions have been taken from women’s incomes. As service users, our members also face the double whammy of services most used by women being cut to the bone.

Conference believes that local government should set the highest standards on pay, equal pay, maternity rights, childcare, eldercare and flexible working. It should offer women genuine career development opportunities to reduce occupational segregation caused by gender discrimination and shrink the gender pay gap in the process. Employers should also value the roles traditionally undertaken by women. Instead, local government currently offers women bargain basement terms and conditions and is becoming a minimum wage employer.

Conference calls upon the Service Group Executive to:

1)Campaign for a new gender agenda that puts women’s issues at the forefront of negotiations with the Local Government Employers and for Service Group campaigns to reflect the needs of our women members.

2)Work with the National Women’s Committee and other equality bodies inside and outside UNISON to ensure that the diverse needs of women are reflected in our campaign.

3)Further research the needs of our women members in local government and explore the issues of most importance to them.

4)Start a widespread consultation with members on what the gender agenda should contain and how to engage women members in achieving it at local and national level across the UK nations.

5)Demand that the local government employers across the UK nations treat the gender agenda as a core issue for discussion in a new and positive approach to collective bargaining.

6)Ensure that the gender agenda is built into our strategy on commissioning.