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

Monday, 6 August 2012

Women & Union Organising - Yes we can!

Nice to see that yesterday's Observer managed to have a feature on women in the trade union movement; not so nice to see trade unionism presented as a career option rather than a cause:

Women officials have the visibility.
Women as shop stewards, branch secretaries and at regional level have the real power.
Because women are taking charge in the workplace.

Because women have negotiated single status and agenda for change where it counts, at the local level where it makes a real difference in terms of creating real equality-proofed pay schemes.

Because those same women are now defending equal pay at the sharp end, as employers try to claw back money from our pay packets.

Because women are in the front line of the local bargaining that is defending jobs, terms and conditions, and fighting redundancies across all our services. Whether it is maintaining overtime rates, bargaining over particular service changes, or ensuring that employers take responsibility for the service after they have cut the staff, it is at a local level that women make the difference.

Because women all over the country are battling privatisation. Women know the consequences of losing that battle – women as cleaners, as catering staff, as carers were the early casualties. They have long recognised that the only way to defend their jobs is to be involved in the fight.

Because it's women who take the lead on the learning agenda, bringing education opportunities into the workplace.

Because women realise that they are just as good as anyone in taking disciplinaries and grievances, organising members to collectively resolve workplace problems and building the union from the bottom up.

Because it is women who are leading the political fight back against the coalition across the country as in the Northern Public Service Alliance where local communities are being galvanised into action.

Because women are increasingly taking the lead in local trades councils, against the inbuilt elderly male bias that has tried to lead but cannot engage with the modern workplace.

Because women realise that two small children and a partner and the responsibilities of being branch secretary or shop steward are compatible, just that it means bringing a new perspective to the job based on their multi-tasking skills and keeping union business professional rather than pub based.

Frances O’Grady may have the ear of the media but let’s face it, how many troops can Frances bring out on strike?

We can. And we will.