Violence Against Women

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.

Rude Words

When Donald Trump said
"Grab them by the pussy"
The objectionable word
was not "pussy"
It was "grab"
His words were not "lewd"
They were violent

Crazed Loner

R.I.P. Jo Cox MP

Crazed loner
Stay-at-homer
Helpline phoner
Hummer and groaner
Window licker
Timebomb ticker

Deranged and estranged
He's a stabber, a shooter
Overly obsessed with his computer

He's nothing to do with us, you see
No link to white supremacy
Not our responsibility
We're pillars of civility
Not killers, no culpability

How to Cover Up the Evidence

Concealer hides the redness and the bruises
Long sleeves disguise the marks along her arm
A bangle covers twisted wrist contusions
A bandage shields her fractured thumb from harm
Dark glasses screen her puffy eyes and tears
Uncertain smile conceals the broken tooth
The scent he bought her drowns the smell of fear
A well-told story masks the brutal truth
The curtains shut out busybody neighbours
Just punching her emotions leaves no mark
His patronage buys sympathy and favours
Control her movements, keep her in the dark
- His hand across her mouth ensures her silence
- His public image veils his private violence

Railway Woman

I am a railway woman, love my job
I take you there and back, I take your fare
Sometimes behind the scenes, sometimes you’ll see me
I fix the track or operate the signal
I clean the station, guard or drive the train
And when you need me, here I am to help.

Report: ETF Women's Mid-Term Conference and Committee meeting, Bucharest, 12-13 April

INTRODUCTION/CONTEXT

  • The opening address stressed the importance of women workers organising in a male-dominated industry and the context of women's struggles in a time of austerity and terrorism.
  • There was a minute’s silence for the victims of terror attacks.
  • ATU (Romanian union federation) President expressed his support for women's representation in trade unions, describing this as a hard-fought battle that was yet to be fully won.
  • Summary of ETF Women’s work over last few years: training, campaigns, organising women transport workers.

Report to RMT Women's Conference 2016: ETF Women's Committee

WHAT IS THE ETF?

The European Transport Workers’ Federation, linking transport trade unions across Europe. RMT is one of several UK affiliates.

Its Women’s Committee includes nominees from various countries and sectors. I am a member of the Committee for the term 2013-2017.

 

PRIORITY CAMPAIGN 1 – VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN TRANSPORT WORKERS

Taking Refuge

It wasn't like this 
When they first shared a kiss
Her heart aches it.
He tells her she's weak
She's a failure, a freak
- And she takes it.

He tells her to say
That all is ok 
So she fakes it.
He shouts in her face
So that she knows her place
- And she takes it.

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