UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The O'Grady Bunch

It may have taken well over a hundred years to get here but the TUC is now to be led by a woman (Frances O'Grady). It is an historic moment for the movement but also a timely one. Women are disproportionately impacted by the savage cuts in public spending and economic decline. The progress, albeit slow, in recent decades on equal pay, is under threat from regional pay bargaining, the public sector pay freeze and regressive Tory policies on employment rights.  http://www.tuc.org.uk/the_tuc/tuc-21198-f0.cfm

The ability of women to have their own paid work outside of carer responsibilities is under increasing threat by cuts to welfare that could place women back into the vortex of full time unpaid carers for older relatives as we fail, as a nation, to support the burgeoning care needs of our older citizens. Childcare provision and spiralling costs leave us trailing behind the rest of Europe.

These are issues that connect with working women everywhere and a strong female advocate, heading up the TUC, we hope will inspire a new generation of women to recognise and value the role of the trade union movement in improving the lives of working women everyone. Trade union organisation is not just a class issue but a gender issue. 50% of the workforce in the UK are women – we could say they are the O’Grady Bunch. It’s time to recruit, organise, and support women workers like never before.

Anna Rose

PS by editor: The Scottish Trades Union Congress could lay claim to having the first woman general secretary. Margaret Irwin from Broughty Ferry (Dundee) was appointed as secretary to the parliamentary committee of the STUC in 1897 at its inaugural congress. That committee went on to become the STUC general council.