Tamil Solidarity participated at UNISON women conference that took place early February this year. UNISON is one of the largest trade unions in Britain representing 1.3 million workers. Here we publish a report by Bharathi, national committee.
The annual conference was attended by delegates from branches across the country. It was a lively discussion about on how women can fight against the cuts, for better wage and working conditions for all. The United Nation has estimated that it would take 70 years to close the wage gap between male and female workers. Women workers make up the majority of the low paid workers.
Women workers are at the forefront of the attacks on services by the Tory government. Cuts in public sector affect women more than men as 65% of public sector workers are women. Cuts in pension and low pay means that women have no choice but to work longer to survive. Cuts in benefits and vital social services (such as childcare) make it harder for women to work more paid hours to sustain the family. The reduction in state welfare also means that women are taking the role of unpaid cares.
Tamil Solidarity was able to have a stall in the exhibition for this conference raising awareness of the plights of the Tamil women in Sri Lanka. The war has created around 89,000 widows who are now the only breadwinners of the family. Six years have passed since the end of the brutal massacre and women are still vulnerable to sexual violence of the ever-present military. We demand an end to the violence against women and we are calling for more investment into support services and for creation of decent jobs and homes.
The Tamil women living in Britain, as workers and service users, are affected by the Tory cuts. Tamil Solidarity is working closely with trade unions, such as UNISON in linking up with the workers movement to improve the wage and working condition for all workers and to stop the cuts to our vital services.