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International Women's Day 2021: Usdaw continues the campaign for equality through the pandemic

Date: 08 March 2021 Usdaw is marking today’s International Women’s Day by pledging to continue to campaign for equality and to keep women’s equality high on the union’s negotiating, organising and political agendas. Prior to the pandemic inequality in the UK was worsening. During the crisis Usdaw has campaigned to tackle inequality with the New Deal for Workers campaign.
Paddy Lillis - Usdaw General Secretary says: “On International Women’s Day we celebrate women’s contribution to society, family life and workplaces. We also continue our campaigning for more to be done to better support women by tackling discrimination and promoting equality.
 
“The coronavirus pandemic has dramatically exposed the structural inequalities in our society. Where there is poverty, prejudice, and discrimination, the virus has left a trail of broken lives in its wake and we will not rest until those divides have been closed. Key workers delivering essential services have kept the country going through the crisis; the majority are women and too often underpaid and undervalued.
 
“Women workers have been particularly hard hit due in part to the fact that inequality between women and men at work was already steadily and at times sharply increasing. Women were disproportionately more likely to be in low-paid and in insecure employment. At the start of 2020 women were, and still are, the majority of low-paid workers making up nearly 7 out of 10 of all low-wage earners. Over half of all zero-hours workers were women and nearly 6 out of 10 self-employed workers.
 
“Poverty in the UK at the point at which the crisis struck was highly feminised and women continue to be the majority of people living in poverty; female-headed households are more likely to be poor and prior to Covid-19 women were more likely to struggle with debt and bills. On average, women carried out 60% more unpaid work than men, women in the UK earn less and own less and women are more likely to experience domestic and sexual violence and abuse.
 
“Today, women are more likely than men to be members of a trade union and strong workplace organisation is crucial to defend and further women’s rights at work. One of the most effective ways to deliver better pay, decent work and fairness for women at work is for employers to recognise and work with trade unions.”
 
Usdaw’s New Deal for Workers calls for:
  • £10 minimum wage for all workers, ending rip-off youth rates and providing a living wage.
  • Minimum contract of 16 hours per week, for everyone who wants it, that reflects normal hours worked and a ban on zero-hour contracts.
  • Better sick pay for all workers, from day one, at average earnings.
  • Protection at work – respect for shopworkers, abuse is not a part of the job.
  • A proper social security system, Universal Credit does not provide a safety net.
  • Job security, with day one employment rights for unfair dismissal and redundancy.
  • Fair treatment and equality for all workers, including equal pay.
  • A voice at work, stop rogue employers refusing to engage with trade unions. 
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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