NEC Womens Officer Jean Sharrocks 07850416517

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Celebrating International Women’s day

Linda Roy, Head of Equal Opps department has said, “On international women’s day we celebrate the social, cultural, economic and political achievements of thousands of women throughout the world. It’s  also a day to remember that women are being, abused, violated, enslaved, and being denied their human rights. And sadly progress towards gender equality has slowed in too many countries. As I speak this Tory government is implementing  savage austerity cuts which are hitting women hardest. And in too many areas of society the glass ceiling still prevents too many women from achieving their full potential.  That is why I’m proud to be a member of a union which is doing so much to end discrimination, break down barriers and create a fair, just and equal society.

So it’s a day to celebrate what we’ve achieved and also to redouble our efforts to help all women in struggle to achieve equality.”

Strengthening the role of women in the CWU will result in a stronger CWU

General secretary Dave Ward described the delivery of equality and the role of women as major challenges facing the union.

Dave called for more women to come forward into leadership roles. “I want to see more women standing in elections, I want to see the first woman general secretary of the CWU,” said Dave.

The GS paid tribute to the role of his predecessor Billy Hayes in starting the proportionality agenda but stressed that he wants to see equalities work mainstreamed. “We are going to continue to integrate the work of the advisory committees into the industrial executives,” said Dave, who believes that the type of deal recently agreed with Royal Mail, whereby 23 people will be released for three months at a time for mentoring, points the way forward.

“I want to see more women standing in elections, I want to see the first woman general secretary of the CWU”Dave Ward, CWU general secretary

The GS indicated support for the national campaigns on domestic violence and against Female Genital Mutilation. He also called for support for the TUC efforts to close the pay gap.

Moving forward Dave pledged to oppose any other union taking over the CWU. He stressed that the new redesigned CWU will continue to have equality as a priority on its agenda. “I want a stronger role for women in the CWU and a stronger union as a result.”

The Womens conference recorded a record attendance of 178, the most ever for a womens or equality conference.

“We continue to see women being discriminated against at work, with the denial of flexible working rights,” said Julia, who highlighted the continuing 19 per cent differential in wages between men and women.

Julia confirmed that the union will continue its work campaigning against domestic violence and in defence of abortion rights.

Agnes applauded the fact that all the main parties in Scotland have women leaders. “The referendum campaign brought a groundswell of women becoming actively involved in politics,” said Agnes, who hoped they all stay actively involved.

The Chair of the SWC urged that the 50:50 representation for women be carried forward in public life. “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu,” quipped Agnes, who called for the woman’s voice to be heard speaking out against the austerity agenda at Westminster.

Katie told how she was spurred on when standing for an area health and safety post, when informed by a male colleague that she would stand down because she was pregnant. She won the election and continued in the role.

In debate, there was exasperation about the different businesses failure to implement policies on work life balance and parental leave.

Vicky Cornelius of Birmingham, Black Country and Worcester called for changes in the present legislation, so that companies like BT are forced to act on issues like work life balance.

A number of delegates expressed amazement at BT obtaining family friendly awards.

Kathy Kelly for the WAC suggested that the parental leave legislation is “not worth the paper it is written on.”

Corinne Shepherd from Essex Amal gave some examples of how RM managers do not understand issues like parental leave. She told how one member was told after having some time off to deal with her seven year old that her “duty was to RM not your children” and “don’t we do enough for your children?”

Gail Nicholas from the Northern and National Financial Services branch called for childcare to stop being seen entirely as the responsibility of the woman. “Let’s get away from child care is a female issue – support male and females on this issue,” said Jan.

There was strong support for a motion calling for campaigning to give women who have experienced domestic and sexual violence access to justice.

Vicky Cornelius, Birmingham, Black Country and Worcester paid tribute to Denise Marshall, the founder of the domestic violence organisation Eves, who died last August. Denise spoke at the Womens Conference a couple of years ago. Eves had its funding cut and recently stopped operating.

A motion passed calling for branches to mobilise to provide support for refugees in the ever growing crisis.

Suzanne Hunter of Edinburgh, Dundee and Borders described the British government’s response to the crisis as “rational at best and downright cruel at worst.”

Other motions passed urging action on body image and the growing instances of anorexia and bulimia, the menopause and rights to female representation.


National Domestic Violence Help Line: 0808 2000247

Male Advice and Enquiry Line: 0845 064 6800

Gender Trust Help Line: 01527 894 838

Equal Opportunities

Since the establishment of legislation to address race relations and the issue of gender discrimination, including equal pay, trade unions have been increasingly concerned to promote equality of opportunity among their members. The concern of Trade Unions has been to both address equality issues in the workplace on an individual and collective basis and also to promote greater fairness within society.

There are four Advisory Committees established which are looked after by the EO department, dealing with areas of potential discrimination.

The Equal Opportunities Department, as well as dealing with the work of these Committees and being involved in campaigning issues, gives advice to Branches on equal opportunities issues and provides assistance in respect of harassment and discrimination.

There is also assistance available if you feel that you are experiencing bullying and harassment in the workplace. The freephone number which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is 0800 107 1909.

Equal Opportunities toolkit 2012

The Equality Officer’s Toolkit has been produced to assist Equality Officers in their role and to allow them to learn and keep updated with equality developments as they arise. The Toolkit not only gives information on general Equality issues but also gives detailed advice on IR issues and how to deal with them, for example issues such as discipline and grievance procedures.

Our focus on equality will see our union underline its position as a leader in the field of equal opportunities and Equality Officers have a significant role to play in ensuring that equality issues are dealt with and addressed effectively at branch level.

Download the toolkit here for more information.

Various equality factsheets can be found on the following link:

You can contact the Equal Opportunities staff:

Linda Roy (Assistant Secretary and Equality Officer), Tel No: 020 8971 7238,

Fevzi Hussein (Policy Assistant), Tel No: 020 8971 7388, E-mail:

Dionne Gittens-Noel (Personal Assistant), Tel No: 020 8971 7356, E-mail:

Julie Rodrigues (Senior Secretary), Tel No: 020 8971 7309, E-mail: