Marxist. Trade Unionist. Socialist-feminist. Author. Poet. Speaker. Tutor. RMT ex-Exec. Workers' Liberty. Autie. Bi. PUFC fan.

Policy resolution: Women's Cancers and Work

Submitted by Janine on 07 March 2017 at 18:14

This resolution was passed unanimously by RMT Women's Conference 2017, and will be submitted to the union's Annual General Meeting in June.

1. each year, there are over 55,000 new diagnoses of breast cancer in the UK, 3,000 new diagnoses of cervical cancer, over 7,000 of ovarian cancer, over 9,000 of uterine cancer, over 1,000 of vulval cancer
2. nearly 12,000 UK women die each year from breast cancer, over 4,000 from ovarian cancer, over 2,000 from uterine cancer, nearly 500 from vulval cancer, and nearly 900 from cervical cancer
3. 1 in 8 women (and therefore around 1,500 current RMT women members) will develop breast cancer during their lifetime.

1. 4-5% of breast cancer cases in the UK are linked to shift work, due to circadian disruption and exposure to artificial light at night
2. studies have shown that breast cancer risk is 21% higher in women who have ever experienced circadian disruption, mainly through night work, versus those who have not
3. exposure to certain substances at work also increases the risk of breast and other women's cancers
as well as health and emotional difficulties, women also experience loss of income as a result of cancer: Macmillan estimates that four out of five people lose £570 per month or more
4. Tory government austerity cuts have included withdrawing over 20 cancer treatments, reducing funding to public health funding, and cutting research funding; National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) decided in December 2016 not to provide a medicine which can extend the lives of women with advance breast cancer.

1. conduct risk assessments that include cancer risks to women, and take action to reduce these risk factors
2. carry out their legal duties regarding the health of night workers
3. pay full sick pay to women absent from work through cancer; release women from work with full pay to attend all cancer-related appointments
4. do not count cancer-related absence towards any disciplinary process under MFA/attendance policies

1. submit the above demands to all employers
2. produce a 'know your rights' guide for women members about cancer, including risk prevention, and rights following diagnosis
3. support campaigns to defend the NHS from cuts and privatisation