Encouraging More Women to be Active in UNISON

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2016 National Women's Conference
15 October 2015
Carried as Amended

Austerity has resulted in severe jobs losses within the public sector and the disappearance of many essential services. As women make up a core part of the workforce, and are also the main users of many public services, they have been impacted disproportionally. It is therefore essential that women are at the forefront of fighting against cuts and that UNISON recognises the vital role they play.

Women are often amongst the lowest paid and in the past twenty years the proportion of young women in low-paid roles has trebled. Within these roles it can be difficult to recruit new activists and this can be for many different reasons. Part of the union’s organising approach must be to address some of the barriers that are preventing women, particularly low-paid women, from becoming active.

Many of the roles low-paid women workers undertake include working unsociable hours, which may prevent them from attending meetings. In Newcastle City Branch we have a successful women’s self-organised group, but on occasions we struggle getting low-paid women to attend meetings and it has been difficult to find a suitable day and time for all to attend. We continue to work with our low-paid women workers to try and address these issues in order to maximise participation, and have held joint women’s meetings across the region so we can build on best practice from our colleagues within different sectors.

In the Northern Region women have been at the forefront of leading campaigns, and specific work has been developed to target specific groups of members in order to empower them and ensure their voices are represented. This is particularly important as we face further cuts to services.

This motion asks the National Women’s Committee to:

• Encourage regions to work with branches to ensure that work is being undertaken to recruit women as activists;

• Encourage branches to identify areas where low-paid women work and to try to identify any issues that may prevent them from becoming active;

• Encourage regions to work with branches to support cross-sector geographical women’s meetings – highlighting the benefit these can bring; and

• Produce material that actively encourages women, particularly low-paid women, into activity.