UNISON policy on violence against women

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2014 National Women's Conference
17 October 2013

Conference notes that at national delegate conference 2013, an amendment to the national women’s committee motion on UNISON women, active, campaigning, leading, was debated and lost.

That amendment stated:

“We believe that our trade union has the potential to transform society for the better. Therefore we have a particular responsibility to confront and challenge male violence against women within our movement. Male violence against women is not acceptable in any case. It must not be tolerated from those who hold office or power in our movement.

We recognise the enormous challenges faced by women victims of male violence, and the pressures which women face, including from abusive men, not to complain about violence and abuse. We therefore believe that, when women complain of male violence within our movement, our trade union should start from a position of believing women. We believe that all women who complain of male violence have the right to be listened to and supported.”

It called on the NEC to review existing practice and subsequently issue guidance to all UNISON bodies about how to respond to male violence against women in our movement.

However, conference further notes that the debate which ensued became focused on the issue of men also experiencing domestic abuse – an issue which is recognised in our guidance and model workplace policy. As a result, the amendment was narrowly defeated.

Conference notes that policy established at national delegate conference (NDC) and national women’s conference absolutely recognises that domestic abuse is a gendered issue. Motions carried in the last 6 years at NDC referred specifically to the gendered nature of domestic abuse, and called on the National Executive Council to work with the women’s self organised group in developing and negotiating workplace policies on domestic abuse. Guidance developed in response to the conference motions also states that domestic abuse is a gendered issue and adopts a victim centred approach.

UNISON has also supported calls for and consistently lobbied for the UK to enact the UN statutory definition of violence against women, and has policy on rape, cultural violence and prostitution, and is committed to ending violence against women in all forms.

Conference re-affirms this policy (of domestic abuse as a gendered issue) and calls upon the national women’s committee to:

• work with the NEC to ensure that UNISON policy is clearly understood;

• issue a strategy document encompassing all aspects of violence against women.