This is the speech I gave at RMT Women's Conference in launching the union's model Domestic Violence policy:
Today is International Women’s Day. Actually, it’s International Working Women’s Day, set up over 100 years ago by socialist women in the workers’ movement to fight for our rights.
RMT has chosen today to launch our model policy for transport employers about domestic violence. Two years ago, this conference passed a policy rightly deploring cuts to women’s refuges. I will leave it to our guest speaker from Nottingham Women’s Aid to explain the work and importance of refuges, and RMT supports campaigns against the savage cuts that they face.
But as a trade union, we also have a responsibility to identify the workplace implications of domestic violence, and to press this issue through our collective bargaining with employers. Because it is crucial for us to asset that domestic violence is not a private issue, not something that stays behind closed doors.
It is a workplace issue, that affects its victims – women and men – at work. It can affect how well you do you job, your timekeeping, your physical and mental well-being. The General Secretary said in his speech earlier that transport workers need the right to go to work without being assaulted. I say we also need the right to go home after work and not be assaulted.
So we have drafted this policy. You can read the full details, but it contains key demands such as:
- no punishment under Attendance policies
- protection from abusers seeking you out at work
- time off that you might need to escape domestic violence
A policy is just a piece of paper unless we put it into action. So, what will we do with this policy? We will submit it to the Company Council of every employer we have negotiating rights with – including yours. Your RMT Company Council reps will be fighting for this policy. Make sure you stay on their case!
We have to get the issue of domestic violence out from behind closed doors and into the mainstream of industrial relations. We have to mobilise ourselves and our workmates to show employers how strongly we feel.