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Usdaw continues the struggle for equality at the TUC Women's Conference

Date: 03 March 2020 This week Usdaw delegates are gathering with hundreds of other trade union activists for the TUC Women’s Conference at Congress House to promote equality and fight discrimination. Usdaw is raising concerns at the conference about misogyny and abuse directed at women, sexual harassment and the impact on women of poor public transport.
Ruth Cross - Usdaw Equalities Officer says: “We are deeply concerned at the rise in misogyny and abuse directed at women, not just on social media, but in all aspects of life. Women are withdrawing from politics and other positions of leadership and many young women feel afraid to speak out and be visible. Unions are crucial in defending women’s rights and voices and in acting as a vehicle for women to be organised, to assert our rights and ensure our voices are heard. Women’s self- organised structures and events inspire women workers to identify and act on their concerns.
“Since #metoo lifted the lid on sexual harassment, it has become depressingly clear how pervasive it is. Sexual harassment takes place in ordinary workplaces, every day and the vast majority of those affected are women. The impact can be devastating. The TUC and affiliates need to give this issue a high priority. Women need to see unions actively taking up the issues that matter to them. Employers more widely appear to be failing to take a tough line on harassment. Nothing will change unless there is a tougher approach from government against employers who fail to tackle sexual harassment.
“Women make more multiple short journeys and cuts in infrastructure have a disproportionate impact on them. Transport is therefore a crucial issue of work life balance and of gender equality. Investment in transport enables women to enter the labour market and to have greater control over the management of their time. Limited, poor access to public transport is a challenge to women’s labour market participation and contributes to the gender pay gap.”
Usdaw is calling for the TUC Women’s Committee to:
  • Support the work being done in unions to organise and reach out to women.
  • Continue to act as a strong voice for the concerns of women workers.
  • Identify what they can do to mobilise women to be active and visible in their unions.
  • Lobby and campaign for a change in the law so, employers are made to be responsible for protecting their staff against harassment.
  • Ensure the TUC’s next campaign plan has a strong campaigning focus on sexual harassment.
  • Work with the Women’s Budget Group, the ETUC and unions to highlight public transport issues and to push for policy and spending to be understood from a gender perspective.
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 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

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The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers