Women's Members Group
Women form the majority of UNISON members in Birmingham.
UNISON structures like 'proportionality' attempt to make sure that the women are represented at all levels in the union, at least at a level that reflects their proportion of the membership. If the membership is 65% women, then the leadership should be at least 65% women.
Women’s Organisation in UNISONaddresses the discrimination women face and provides a forum and structures to promote issues that particularly affect women in the workplace and in society in general. Family care, low pay and domestic violence are just some examples of our campaigns.
Our women’s group meet once a month to plan activities and to support members with issues. Meetings are open to all women members and take place at the branch office. If you are passionate about women’s issues please join us.
On 5th December the Women’s Group went to the showing of Battle of the Sexes at MAC. A film that depicts the ultimate in the fight for equal pay, I was joined by Homecare Enablement Prafula Patel and Usha Parmar and Michelle Wharton from a Children’s Centre’ This on the day when our Home Care Workers produce a 99% vote to take action, had me punching the sky even before the opening credits!
The Battle of the Sexes
Finally! Recognition for Mary Seacole.
Born Mary Jane Seacole in 1805 in Kingston Jamaica, Mary has finally received recognition from the establishment by way of a statue to be unveiled in London later today. This follows a 12 year campaign that raised £500,000 to support the project.
Mary learned Nursing from her mother who kept a boarding house for invalid soldiers.
When denied the opportunity to travel to Crimea with Florence Nightingale, Mary went anyway opening the “British Hotel” for sick and convalescent officers.
She visited Florence Nightingale at the Barrack Hospital in Scutari where she reports that Nightingale was “friendly” but there is no evidence of any other meetings .Lord Soley, Chair of the Mary Seacole Memorial Statue Appeal, said:” The unveiling will be a truly memorable event and, after 12 years of campaigning, we look forward to finally granting Mary Seacole the acknowledgement she deserves for her selfless support of British soldiers.”
Visit of Mercedes Sanchez Monday 2nd October 2017
Visit of Mercedes Sanchez from Nicaragua
The meeting was addressed by Mercedes Sanchez, Coordinator of Women’s Committee-Latin American region of the PSI. Mercedes shared the Nicaraguan experience of Neoliberalism which resulted in citizens voted for self determination under a Socialist Government. Mercedes talked about how trade unions worked in and alongside institutions promoting Socialist and egalitarian principles which encouraged a 50/50 approach in employment and Government with laws to protect the rights of both women and men. Equality is entrenched into law making Nicaragua a champion of gender inequality and promoting laws including those that allowed breast feeding mothers extra time to do so within the workplace.
Mercedes talked about the focus on the Human Development Plan to encourage economic growth with increased employment and reduced inequality and poverty. I must say that while listening, I was mentally packing a bag for a sudden unplanned move to Nicaragua!
Mercedes went on to tell us about the threat faced by Nicaraguans from the NICA Act as not only was it a throw back to American imperialism, as America intends to persue the Act to apply economic sanctions over alleged authoritarianism and corrupt elections (President Daniel Ortega was democratically elected and even allowed observers into elections but their validity was questioned when they found no fault. Observers were chosen by the US Government)!
Mercedes explained that UNISON National affiliated to Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign and is asking Birmingham Branch to do the same in order to preserve the autonomy and prosperity of the people’s of Nicaragua. The group agreed to discuss this as a motion for Branch Committee at our next meeting.
We all agreed with the sentiments that we need unity and working together to fight with hope. The riveting debate that followed left no time for our intended agenda and the group agreed to defer the agenda until our next meeting which I propose to hold on Monday 23rd October, 5.30 – 7.00, 19th floor McLaren Building, Priory Queensway
Women's Group Update from 23/10/2017
Rose explained that she had not yet prepared the motion to affiliate to the Nicaragua Solidarity campaign for this meeting but would propare the motion and provide it for group members in advance of it being presented at Branch Executive Committee meeting in November.
The group agreed to further examine the issues faced by Women with Gynaecological Health issues and reasonable adjustments.
There was a discussion about time being ‘afforded’ to Women with such issues with one example being of a woman being asked to take necessary breaks being told that these breaks should be taken in her own time. The group also discussed the validity of suchcomments being applied by a male manager. The person will be given details and advised to contact branch.
7 have expressed an interest in attending 2018 women’s conference. Rose will look into number of attendees, either as delegates or visitors and notify the group at the next meeting.
Rose notified the group of training available at national Unison.
Next meeting will be held on Saturday 25th November time to be confirmed
Women In Unison Comedy Event
UNISON Birmingham Branch presented the Women in Unison Comedy event on Friday 17th June at The HUB in Stirchley. At a time when Birmingham is facing cuts to its budgets of 98 million, and given that 65% of public sector workers are women will mean that women are hit disproportionately hard.
Not only are women hit hardest working in the services they provide they are also hit by cuts to services they rely on. Some of our Carers have caring responsibilities in their personal lives.
According to the Women’s Budget Group, Social Care has already been eroded by more than 20%and social housing by almost 10%. Early education and childcare are also under attack.
The Women’s Budget Group acknowledge that it is “lone parents and single pensioners – most of whom are women – will suffer the greatest reduction in their living.”
With such news on the Horizon, Maureen Younger was able to make some Women forget the pressures of work/life imbalance and laugh way into a Friday afternoon. More events are planned. Watch this space for more.