ASLEF at STUC Women's Conference 2019

31 October 2019

Delegates Jennifer Stewart (Motherwell) and Allison Miller (Women's Representative Committee Representative for District 2), along with EC Member for District 2 Jim Baxter, attended the Scottish TUC Women's Conference on 28th and 29th November 2019.

Jennifer Stewart reports:

 

I was asked back in March if I fancied attending this year's women's conference. Having never been to a conference before I wasn't really sure about what I was saying yes to but I'm certainly glad that I did. The conference brought together over 120 women trade unionists from all different work places from across Scotland to debate a wide range of issues to set the campaigning agenda for next year.

 

I listened to women speak passionately on hard subjects such as child poverty, women in poverty, school holiday hunger and our own motion on supporting menopausal women in the workplace. Alison Miller did a great job in getting our motion passed with her passionate speech on the menopause and how we need to start talking about it and getting support in the workplace.

The conference was themed on child poverty and how we can eradicate it from society. Not an easy subject to tackle when the impact of austerity is causing higher levels of poverty. I listened to students from Perth High School and Dunblane High School talk about child poverty and the right for every child to have a free hot meal at school and access to free sanitary care. One girl stated that she wanted to be a lawyer when she left school but by no way would she ever work for a company that paid less to women than men. It was very heartening to listen to these young girls speak so passionately on some hard subjects.

Graham Menzies from the STUC youth committee spoke on the need as unions to be more present in schools and educate the children of this country on what it means to be part of a union. I heard how Universal Credit is failing miserably and affecting the lowest paid workers in our society, how people are scared to try and claim it due to the complications of the paperwork and people being scared they will have money taken away from them.

 

One of the hardest subjects for myself to listen to was on homelessness. 58% of women sleeping rough have either been intimidated or threatened with violence in the last 12 months. 1 in 4 female rough sleepers have been sexually assaulted in the last year. I myself would be keen to take this campaign further and help support Community in their motion.

I spoke in support of the RMT's motion for safer trains for women. It was good to speak on a subject I feel passionately about. Motherwell branch has been taking note and collecting information on trains that are not staffed correctly and handing this to the transport minister. This has then prompted him to urge Abellio to hire more staff to cover more trains. This isn't good enough - we should be campaigning for a guaranteed person on every train for the safety of all and for guaranteed travel for all disabled passengers.

 

It was a great experience and I look forward to participating in the next one.

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