ETF Women’s Committee, March 2014 – Campaigns and Other Business

More from the ETF Women’s Committee meeting on 19-20 March 2014

  • Women’s Health and Safety at Work
  • Violence Against Women
  • International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) report
  • Women’s representation
  • Membership questionnaire
  • Training package
  • European TUC report
  • Rule changes
  • Study on discrimination
  • Next meeting

Women’s Health and Safety at Work

The Committee is applying for funding from the EU for a project on women transport workers’ health and safety. The sub-committee co-ordinating this has met and carried out a brainstorming session, to identify issues and factors using a ‘dimensional’ model. There are disadvantages to relying on EU project funding: it takes a long time, the application process has recently become much more complicated, and the content of the project has to be acceptable to the funder. However, similar project funding in the past has enabled work such as the women’s training package and the video about bullying and harassment on board ships (see elsewhere in this report), and the Committee has few resources of its own. To become independent of EU funding and still be able to carry out important work, the Committee would need more funding from the ETF and its affiliates.

Violence Against Women

The Committee agreed to a recommendation that the application for EU project funding be put back by one year to allow better preparation and avoid clashing with the Health and Safety project funding application. The funding application will be submitted by 6 June; the project will start in November 2014; run two workshops in 2015 and conclude with a final conference in Autumn 2015, which will coincide with the mid-term ETF Women’s Conference. I proposed that in the meantime, the Committee – and the sub-group we elected at our last meeting – get on with organising activities, campaigns and materials independently of the funded project. Committee members will pool all their current activities and documents. I am putting together ideas and proposals and will attend a meeting of the sub-group in Sofia in May to agree plans – please email me with ideas and suggestions. An EU-wide survey in March 2014 produced some shocking results about the extent of violence against women. You can read the main findings here. On 5 March, the European Parliament passed a resolution on violence against women, which you can read here. Other useful information can be found on the website of Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE). In Spain, more than 20 women have been killed by their husbands so far this year, five during the past week. (See also ITF report, next.)

International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) report

ITF has a very useful pack on Violence Against Women. The recent ITF Women’s Conference in New Delhi included discussions on violence against women, organising women transport workers, and developing women trade union leaders. There was a rally and street theatre opposing violence. Several Committee members stated that this was the best event they had ever attended for women trade unionists. RMT sent two delegates: Becky Crocker and Christine Willett. At the ITF Congress in August in Sofia, women trade unionists are likely to run two fringe events: one on violence against women and one on ‘reconciliation’ (work-life balance) policies. ITF is running an online campaign against the shocking abuse of women workers by Qatar Airways, here. ITF has useful material for unionising women here.

Women’s representation

The ETF Executive has set up a working group to discuss women’s representation, considering measures such as quotas or proportionality; two nominees from the Women’s Committee will join this working group.

Membership questionnaire

The ETF has circulated to affiliates a questionnaire on equalities facts and issues. Committee members will be sent a copy of the results, and details of which unions responded and which didn’t.

Training package

RMT’s Executive has previously endorsed a proposal to consider using the ETF Women’s Committee’s training package into our own training programme. This Committee meeting discussed promoting the pack to union and section executives. I emphasised that an effective way of promoting it is to get on with implementing it, to show how well it can work. ETF affiliates in each country can deliver the course together, which would have the added bonus of increasing contact between women in different transport unions. The pack is designed to be used in a variety of settings, so we can also run more informal training sessions locally.

European TUC report

The ETUC website’s section on gender equality is here. ETUC Congress will take place in May this year; ITUC Congress next year. The next ETUC Women’s Committee will take place in April 2014, and include a ’round table’ discussion with MEPs, the European Women’s Lobby and the Fundamental Rights Agency. ETUC has policy and an action programme on gender equality, with key issues being:

  • gender mainstreaming in all ETUC policies
  • equal pay
  • gender representation in decision-making bodies
  • caring responsibilities
  • the link between domestic violence and workplace violence

Since then, the final report of the Bargaining for Equality Project has been drafted, and will be discussed at the ETUC Women’s Committee meeting. You can read my report on the project from November 2013 here.

Rule changes

The recommended rule changes agreed by the previous Committee meeting were endorsed by the ETF Executive.

Study on discrimination

We were each interviewed by two students who are carrying out a study on discrimination against women working in transport across Europe. I look forward to the results!

Next meeting

Antwerp – either 15-16 October or 23-24 October.

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