Speaking at the Usdaw’s Annual Delegate Meeting in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, Dave McCrossen – Usdaw Deputy General Secretary said:
“It is nothing short of a national scandal that in 21st century Britain, in one of the richest countries in the world, women and girls are suffering the humiliation and indignity of being unable to afford sanitary protection. It's clear that urgent action is needed.
Legislating for universal, free provision of sanitary protection is the ultimate aim, but there are other practical steps to help end period poverty, like: Removing VAT from sanitary protection, providing it to everyone in education, and those in most need and negotiating with employers to provide it in the workplace.
“For too long the stigma around these issues prevented women and girls from speaking out, but the taboo has been broken. Campaigners against period poverty have made certain of that and real progress is being made.
“Last summer Tesco cut prices on nearly 100 sanitary products, to shoulder the current 5% VAT cost and others such as Morrisons and Waitrose have followed suit. Last August, Scotland announced that free products would be available in all schools, colleges and universities and earlier this year they extended this to public places including libraries and leisure centres. Wales has a similar scheme in place covering schools and colleges, as have some local authorities in Northern Ireland. The Conservative Government has finally taken action, announcing that free products will be provided in all schools and colleges.
“Period poverty is a terrible symptom of the wider and growing social problem of poverty. We've all heard the Conservative party's mantra, that work is the route out of poverty, but in today's Britain, this simply isn't true. Most households living in poverty are in paid work
– that's a fact. We've taken a stand against this scandal with our ‘Time for Better Pay’ campaign.
“The issue isn't simply that women don't have enough money for sanitary products, the issue is that women don't have enough money full stop and that
is what must change. Focusing on meeting this immediate need is hugely important, but ultimately our goal is to campaign for a society where everyone has enough money to live on.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fifth biggest and the fastest growing trade union with over 420,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion