The Impact of Austerity on Women

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2014 National Delegate Conference
21 February 2014

Conference condemns the continued attack on public sector workers. In the last two years, over 631,000 jobs have been axed with a further 400,000 due to go before the 2015 general election. Women make up a large proportion of public sector workers and in some sectors twice as many women as men have lost their jobs. Recent statistics show a dramatic rise in the unemployment amongst women and from 2010 it has gone from 6.9% to 7.3%. The brunt of the government’s austerity drive is clearly impacting on women.

The austerity measures have seen core services disappear; this has meant the vital roles that many of our women members provide have been lost. Unions have fought hard for equality, with UNISON at the forefront, but the rights women have gained and the positions they have strived hard for are at risk. Only 35% of senior jobs within the public sector are held by women, as opportunities for women to progress are greatly reduced. Additionally there is the issue of role models; who will young female workers look up to and aspire to if their female counterparts are no longer in senior positions? For those who do find alternative employment, this is often part-time, low paid work, which raises the important issue of the underemployed women forced into jobs that do not use, or recognise, the skills they have.

There is also a high level of public service use amongst women, and the services they access range greatly. Consequently, as these services have been cut back they have felt the adverse effect to a greater degree. This coupled with benefit changes has meant our women members are clearly feeling the full brunt of the government’s austerity measures, with many households struggling to pay bills and have a decent standard of living.

Within the Northern Region there have been a high number of campaigns run, with women at the forefront of many of these. Under the umbrella of the Public Services Alliance, an alliance of trade unions, community groups and the voluntary sector, much has been done to highlight the impact of the cuts and devastating effects they are having with the region.

Conference calls on the National Executive Council to:

1)Continue to campaign to highlight the impact the cuts are having on women;

2)Produce organising material aimed at young women to encourage them to join and participate in the union;

3)Promote the work of the Public Services Alliance to campaign and highlight the issue affecting women.