Joint Press Release of Women’s Committees of ICTU, TUC, STUC and WTUC
60 women trade union leaders from across the UK and the Republic of Ireland have been meeting in Derry 4/5 November and believe that the austerity budgets being implemented in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland will not only affect women disproportionately but will also be bad for the economy and our society.
A report on the Gender Impact of Cuts prepared by the TUC (England) for the meeting shows clearly that the UK government’s deficit reduction strategy is unfair and will disproportionately disadvantage women and families, particularly those on low incomes. Amongst those hardest hit will be lone parents. Ninety per cent of lone parents are women. Research commissioned by the TUC shows that female lone parents will lose 18.5% of their net income. “Not only will women be worse off as a result of benefit cuts, but women are likely to also be the biggest losers when it comes to public sector pay freezes and jobs cuts. The main reason for this is the fact that women make up 65% of the public sector workforce. Just under 40% of women’s jobs nationally are in the public sector, compared to around 15 per cent of men’s jobs”, added Sarah Veale from the TUC.. In Wales, a recent poll showed that a majority of people feel that the cuts are being implemented unfairly and nearly half believe that they will be bad for the economy. 42,000 public sector jobs are now at risk in Wales – 2/3 of public sector workers are women, said Julie Cook of the WTUC.
Elaine Dougal from the STUC said that Trade Union Women in Scotland and across the UK and Ireland are not prepared to sit back and let the cuts happen and that a united trade union voice will lead the challenge to the governments’ short sighted austerity measures and promote an agenda that focuses on economic growth, the provision of jobs and services and equality for all.
Taryn Trainor, joint Chair of the ICTU Women’s Committee urged all to support the NICICTU campaign against the cuts, adding that shortening the equalisation of the pension age and forcing low-paid women to work to 68 is especially cruel and heartless. Of the £8 billion to be raised by the Budget changes in Northern Ireland, £5.8 billion will be paid by women. Women will suffer more from the attacks on benefits and tax credits. Women on low incomes will be forced to ‘make do’ with far less for their families. “This is intolerant, and intolerable. It must be resisted”
In terms of people’s rights, Taryn added that “it was also essential in these difficult times that both Governments work to ensure the principle of equivalence in human rights as set out in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement 1998. This should be underpinned by a comprehensive Bill of Rights in Northern Ireland”. Joint Chair, Carol O’Brien added that: “Congress advocates that any budgetary decisions must be taken in a manner which is sensitive to its differential impact on women and men and must be examined from a gender perspective. It is critical that Budgetary decisions seek to alleviate the worst consequences of the recession on women by protecting the most vulnerable women and ensuring that progress that has been made towards equality for women is not reversed. She urged all to support the national demonstration planned for Saturday, November 27 in Dublin. The national mobilisation and demonstration has been called in support of Congress proposals on alternative ways to tackle the economic crisis, which include a focus on job creation, investment and growth.