Usdaw says a woman's place is active in her Union

Date: 8 March 2011

The shopworkers Union Usdaw is marking International Women's Day by celebrating a record number of women activists and highlighting the recent gains the Union has achieved for its 227,000 women members.

Usdaw has had a majority of women members since 1970, but now for the first time in its history more than half of the Union's 8,000 Shop Stewards and 12,000 activists are women.

The Union is also highlighting some of the recent gains it has made for its women members which include:

  • An average pay increase of 2.33% compared to a whole economy average of 1.6%.
  • A pay increase of over 20% for young women working in Tesco and Sainsbury's, as a result of the Union negotiating the abolition of youth rates in both companies.
  • Securing £8,111,600 in personal injury compensation for around 1,200 women members and £1,176,953 for 248 women members in employment claims through the Union's free legal service.
  • Around 300 women members a month returning to learning through one of the many Usdaw organised workplace based learning programmes.

The Union's award winning Parents and Carers Campaign, which aims to improve statutory and contractual rights for members with families, has also made significant gains for women members. Over half the Union's women members have seen improvements to their employment contracts as a result of the Campaign, improvements that include the introduction of contractual maternity pay, new flexible working practices and the introduction of employer support for childcare. The Union has recently negotiated with Tesco one of the best examples of paid time off for fertility treatment in the entire private sector.

John Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary said:

"Over 50,000 women have joined Usdaw in the past decade as a result of our focus on workplace recruitment and organisation and I'm thrilled that the great efforts we make to help and support all members to get active in the Union are so clearly paying dividends with our women members."

"Usdaw prides itself on listening and acting on our members' concerns. Our women members have made it clear to us that issues around work-life balance have equal importance to pay which is why we have focussed so much attention on them."

Ruth Cross, Usdaw Equalities Officer said:

"The Union is not just there for when things go wrong at work. Most of our women members are juggling work with caring for their families and we understand the pressures they are sometimes under. We have helped thousands of women to get the support they need at work - whether it's hours of work that fit round their families, time off when their children are ill or extra breaks during pregnancy."

Notes for Editors:

  1. Usdaw activists include Shop Stewards, Health and Safety Reps, Union Learning Reps, Branch Officers and conference delegates.
  2. For more information on Usdaw's Parents and Carers Campaign visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/ourcampaigns/supportingparentscarers.aspx
  3. For more information on Usdaw's Life Long Learning Campaign visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/ourcampaigns/lifelonglearning.aspx
  4. International Women's Day is held on 8 March every year and is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. For more information visit: http://www.internationalwomensday.com/
  5. Usdaw (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fourth biggest Trade Union, with over 395,000 members. Usdaw is the country's fastest growing Trade Union; membership has increased by more than 15% in the last four years and by over a quarter in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the Union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.