13 March 2015
This week is TUC women’s conference 2015. Follow the debate on twitter #TUCwomen2015.
In her opening address to conference Frances O’Grady emphasised the role of collective bargaining in improving women’s prospects. She said:
First, we need to boost women’s incomes. That means mandatory equal pay audits. Affordable childcare. And measures to promote flexible and part-time working at all levels.
Second, we need action to tackle the low pay epidemic that disproportionately hits women.
A much higher minimum wage. A living wage. And higher pay in the sectors that can afford it, administered through modern wages councils. Third, we need more collective bargaining and stronger unions winning for women.
From Ford in Dagenham to Cammell-Laird in Birkenhead, history has consistently shown that the best way for women to secure pay justice is through organisation and collective action.
Ultimately the best way for us to win fair pay isn’t by encouraging employers to do the right thing, or pressing the government for policy change, important though they are. No, it’s only by getting out there, getting organised and standing together in solidarity that we will make a difference to those millions of ordinary women who desperately need better wages.
The TUC have published a report, The impact on women of recession and austerity documenting the disproportionate affect the last seven years has had on women, including on in the workplace.
The report finds that;
• The number of women in work is greater than ever before but young women’s employment, which fell furthest in the recession years, has still not recovered.
• There has been a rise in the number of women who are stuck on zerohours and short-hours contracts unable to get enough work to make ends meet and afraid to complain in case they lose the hours that they do have.
• Pay in real terms has fallen for women even though it hasn’t fallen by as much as for men.
• Women working full-time now earn about nine per cent less per hour than men but women working part-time earn nearly 38 per cent less.
• They still make up the majority of those paid less than the living wage and more women than ever before are in part-time work because they can’t find full-time work.
• Single mothers face greater obligations to look for work and are at greater risk of having their benefits taken away. They are also the group most likely to be sanctioned for unjustifiable reasons. More single mothers are now in work but frequently they are stuck in low-skilled and low-paid jobs which they have little chance of progressing from.
To find out more about collective bargaining, read the IER’s Reconstruction After the Crisis: A Manifesto for Collective Bargaining