Trade unions

Workers' self-defence starts with getting unionised at work. This section includes material on the trade union struggles and issues I am involved in and/or urge you to support!

ETF Women's Committee reports, campaigns and plans

COUNTRY REPORTS

  • France - Women trade unionists have been concentrating on increasing women's involvement in the unions, and on campaigning against violence against women. At Gare du Nord railway station, African women cleaners are often sexually assaulted by male bosses. Some men say that it does not matter, that women are making it up, or that they 'have a chip on their shoulder'.
  • Italy - There is very good legislation on women's rights - for example on maternity - but the economic and cultural situation means that women are still disadvantaged. Italy has the lowest rate of women's employment in Europe, and needs investment in public services and industries to create jobs for women. As the government cuts welfare services, it relies on women to act as unpaid carers.
  • Belgium - In the Port of Antwerp, an agreement has been signed by the union and the employer regarding women's employment on the docks. this emphasises equal recruitment policies rather than quotas. But the employers need challenging to ensure that they abide by the agreement.
  • Netherlands - Some men - even some union men - say that women who work on the docks are taking men's jobs. And they say that if you do a 'man's job' then you must go along with 'men's humour' ie. sexist banter. As a minority, women are abused, whether through 'jokes' or touching. The solution is not new laws but the enforcement of existing laws, but the Inspectorate is understaffed.  Migrant women workers are taken on in jobs with only a few hours work, and then told that they must give sexual favours to get more work. Women are not confident to complain about abuse, so the union is using organisers from other countries to speak to women in their own language.
  • UK - I reported on the ScotRail victory and ongoing fight to defend guards' jobs; the abuse of women cleaners; the impact of ticket office clsures and de-staffing of stations.
  • Many countries - A recurring theme in reports from the various countries is that European Union legislation is useful, but that it needs to be monitored and implemented, with sanctions against companies that do not abdie by gender equality policies. Employers find ways around legislation, so legislation is not enough.

European Commission: Getting More Women to Work in Transport?

Jean-Louis Colson (on the right of the photo) from DG-MOVE - the European Commission's Directorate General on transport - outlined the Commission's work on women and transport, and the consultation it is currently running.

For the Commission, the main 'challenge' is that not enough women work in transport. Only 22% of transport workers are women, across all 28 EU member stations (the Commission's document states that "22% of women work in the transport sector" but this is incorrect; the statistic is as I give it here). It is even more unbalanced in certain transport sectors: road and rail workforces are only 14% women; air transport is a bit better, with 38% women. Jobs within transport are also unbalanced: in the rail industry, 60% of human resources staff are women, but only 3% of drivers.

Alterations to the Schedule at the Picturehouse and Ritzy

We've cancelled Night Of The Living Dead
To show Day Of The Living Wage instead
On strike because Honey, I Shrunk Their Wage
​They've Anger at Management, they're showing Rage

​When they Walk The Line, they mean the picket
It's Independence Day and It's just Not Cricket
​No Terms Of Endearment, but terms and conditions
No Western Union, they want union recognition

Poets on the Picket Line

15/10/2016 - 14:00

Janine and other poets will be entertaining pickets and drumming up public support with some cinema solidarity rhymes.

​Hackney Picturehouse workers are following workmates at Brixton's Ritzy in taking action for the London Living Wage and other improvements to working conditions.

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