UNISON’s women’s conference opens in Liverpool

Speaking at the annual women’s conference in Liverpool today (Friday), UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: “In recent months a lid has been lifted on a sordid and seedy world, one we hoped we’d left behind. A world where rich and powerful men see women as objects, play things, and pawns in their quest for control.

“From the dressing rooms of Hollywood, to the corridors of Westminster, we’ve heard horrific tales of abuse, exploitation and denigration. A depressing picture where name-calling and online abuse are shrugged off as banter, and swept under the carpet as too tough to tackle.

“The complete disrespect of women’s bodies, their intellect and their abilities. No woman deserves this kind of treatment. But this is not a women’s issue, it’s a human rights one. There must be zero tolerance of offensive and sexist behavior, and of bullying and harassment.

“Less than a mile from the conference hall is the new Royal Liverpool Hospital, but since the collapse of Carillion last month it lies abandoned and unfinished.

And with Capita issuing profit warnings, thousands of workers who are working in outsourced public services are understandably worried about their jobs.

“Carillion was a reckless, dangerous organisation, one driven solely by profit, which left a trail of damage, debt and failure.

“We’ve always been opposed to privatisation, outsourcing and the whole PFI agenda. Where public servants are forced to pay many times over to bail out the greedy failures of privatisation. That’s why the Labour Party is right to commit to bring contracts back into the public sector where they belong.

“And for far too long, public service workers have faced cuts to their pay. This means care workers reliant on food banks, cleaners terrified of ending up homeless, and teaching assistants scared their boiler will break down, and if it does there’ll be no birthday presents for their children.

“At long last the government has abandoned its dreadful, self-defeating, fatally flawed pay cap. But now it’s time to push ministers further and win real pay rises. Get the government to do what it should have done years ago, and pay up now.

“When we win on pay, it’s women who work in public services who benefit the most. It’s the same with employment tribunal fees. UNISON got rid of them following a massive fight. It was a great win for all women workers.

“It was one of the biggest legal victories in British history, a complete and utter defeat for the government. As a result women now face fewer barriers to challenging discrimination, unfair dismissal or abuse at work. When we win, we win for all workers.”

UNISON’s 2018 women’s conference opened yesterday (Thursday) at the BT Convention Centre. During the conference delegates are set to debate the many ongoing challenges and obstacles that women face in modern Britain, like misogyny, online abuse and low pay.

Notes to editors:
– The conference takes place from the 1-3 February at the BT Convention Centre, Kings Dock, Liverpool Waterfront, Liverpool L3 4PF.

Media contacts:
Siobhan Cooley T: 020 7121 5555 M: 07903 870786 E: s.cooley@unison.co.uk