ictu womens conference
march 4 2016
We start the second day with Motion 10 detailing changes to sick leave entitlement, seeking that any pregnancy related sick leave will not be counted against entitlements under current Public Service Sick Leave provisions, as austerity cuts were not just pay and pensions but also changes to terms and conditions.
Motion on Austerity and the impact of Women
Calling for a fight against Austerity and for equality. Organise women’s lobbies to highlight disproportionate impact of the cuts on women, develop a women led political campaign based around key industrial demands, provide political education courses including training on how government works
Motion on Child Poverty – set goals to end child poverty by 2025 by investing in education and working with relevant agencies, including food. 1 in 5 children go to school hungry, some startling figures for a modern “recovering economy:
Motion 15 on reproductive health and justice calling for support of repeal the eighth campaign, harrowing personal story was told. Hugely emotional hearing about how more than 10 people who travel daily to the uk for abortion. The motion called on ICTU to continue to support Trade union campaign to repeal the 8th amendment, lobby political parties to commit to a referendum and support a vote on the issue and encourage the mobilisation of trade union members on the issue.
Motion 16 calling on ICTU to lobby Government to address gender pensions gap of 39% leaving many women living in poverty. Gender Pay gap results in lower pensions for women, austerity has worsened this as pensions were postponed in return for putting food on the table.
Motion 17 – Violence against women and girls calling on ICTU to campaign to introduce legislation similar to Violence against women and girls act in Wales and to work with affiliates and employers to develop workplace policies on domestic violence. There was an all island survey over 10 years ago on the impact of domestic violence in the workplace where one third of people said they had experienced cases and this had an impact on their work. Legislation in Wales places a duty on Ministers and Public Bodies to introduce, monitor and evaluate strategies to tackle violence against women and girls, a more pressing requirement is to have active policies in the workplace, ensuring these places take a stand against this horror. Narrative needs to move from why does she stay with him to why doesn’t he stop
Motion 18 – Equal Marriage calling on ICTU to fully support Civil Marriage Equality campaign in Northern Ireland as it is the only part of the UK and Ireland where gay and lesbian couples can’t marry. After the success of the Marriage Equality referendum down south it has helped highlight the absence in this in Northern Ireland.
Motion 19 supporting the work of Women’s Committee endorsing the programme of work that was produced prior to conference. The programme has three parts – women Organising for decent work – women in society – Women in trade unions. as this co-ordinates with other congress campaigns. There is a notable absence of women negotiators
Motion 20 was about the new Workers College which is in the process of being set up. It called on ICTU to ensure that gender balance is part of teaching, participation and relevant training.
Motion 21 was similar but went a step further calling on a specific training and mentoring training programme for Women Trade Unionists. This will help empower women activists to be confident in pursuing a career through the trade union movement which should help achieve an acceptable gender balance which is missing
Guest speaker Montserrat Mir Roca, ETUC confederal Secretary spoke about Breaking the Glass Walls, paying tribute to the mothers and grandmothers have done to help with todays situation, though there’s a lot of work left to do. Austerity policies effect vulnerable people more. Not acceptable that companies are paying below minimum wage. Poverty and exclusion exists all throughout Europe, not just the poorer countries. There is a European Commissioner on gender and ETUC are looking for European Gender equality strategy. ETUC priorities include looking at gender pay gap is still a big problem, sometimes you can have good legislation but it doesn’t always get implemented. Also the representation of women at higher level positions in union and other organisations. There is still a need to advance work life balance arrangements, including implementation of parental leave directives. This year will see a push to highlight violence against women through a “safe at work, safe at home” programme. €370 million lost in gender pay gap throughout Europe per annum, this is not just a trade union demand it is economic.
And that was that – 21 motions and not one speaker against but a very inclusive conference. There was a strong feeling of solidarity for all speakers to motions, encouraging people to speak