Increasing participation of low paid and part time women

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2015 National Women's Conference
16 October 2014

Increasing participation of low paid and/or part time women is not a new subject but an important one as many women find themselves on low salaries and working in part time or on zero hours contracts. UNISON women members total two thirds of the current membership and although strides have been taken to increase their participation and to be inclusive more needs to be achieved.

Labour Research in their article, “heeding women’s voices” (March 2014) says that Job cuts in the public sector could have adversely impacted on UNISON’s female membership still further. In 2013 a recruitment campaign by UNISON was targeted at women after research indicated many union members said UNISON was expensive and they were not sure of the benefits.

Ensuring members know of the benefits of being in UNISON is the key to increasing participation, communication and knowledge needs to be conveyed to the women membership as a whole. Ask the question are we using the correct methods to appeal for the women members to become involved? UNISON should rightly be seen as insurance in the workplace to bargain, represent and negotiate. Participation needs much more commitment as women need time, flexibility, childcare or carer cover to be able to participate.

There are many barriers both in the workplaces, by employers and in UNISON that need identification so women can progress and become involved. The barriers include finance, time, childcare, respite care, education, resources and communication.

Having policies that cover flexible working, time off for education and learning, work/life balance, women & health including menopause and domestic violence for all women workers would be a step forward as some employers do not have adequate policies.

UNISON has a comprehensive education system nationally and regionally which covers improving English and maths to leadership and mentoring courses and a bursary scheme. We have reserved seats for women and low paid women, women’s conferences and a system that ensures proportionality and equality within delegations.

All women and young women in particular need to know what we have to offer as they are the unions present and future. So we ask the National Women’s Committee to:

1)Develop a strategy for communication with women in regions and branches.

2)Update and ensure that women’s issues are prominent on the National website with regional web link

3)Research the actions that can assist Low paid and part time women to participate.

4)Campaign for branches to give expenses upfront regionally and at National level

5)Report back to the 2016 conference on progress made.

Submitted by the North West Women’s Committee