CWU Women’s Conference – 8th November 2016

Communication Workers Union

Women’s Conference – 8th November 2016

Section 1 – Industrial Motions

1. The motion was to instruct the WAC, in conjunction with the T&FSE, to investigate and collate the number of leavers over the past 12 months throughout BT Consumer along with the gender breakdown and age profile of these individuals. The results should form a report to the 2017 Women’s Conference outlining its findings and listing any recommendations it sees fit to administer.

The branch was adamant that BT could not now be classed as an equal opportunity company. With the movement to unsociable hours, and the fact that women are still the primary carers, in most cases, most of the BT consumer women in the north will be leaving in June because of the unsociable hours and the choice of work patterns are slowly diminishing. People are only being given 5 weeks’ notice. All appeals have been rejected under ‘business needs’.

Your branch delegates voted to support this motion, nad it was carried unanimously.

2. Conference instructs the WAC along with the Industrial Executives to approach all employers where we have recognition and where there are Contact Centres to investigate the gender split in each location, on full and part time workers and on leavers. If this does indicate that women are not remaining in work then the union and the employers should jointly seek measures to counter this.

Much in the same vein as motion 1 but with the added instruction to investigate in all Contact Centres where we have recognition. It once again sought reasonable adjustments in the ‘carers’ field’ with the added request on a male/female split.

You delegates supported this motion and it was carried unanimously.

3. Conference instructs the WAC to work with the Industrial executives and the employers to deal with this problem by;

• Hi-lighting the issue and its impact.

• Supporting women who experience abuse or isolation.

• Creating training modules for all staff on the issue.

This list is not exhaustive.

The Midlands Regional Committee felt that this problem of women in male dominated work areas still has a long way to go before a ‘safe place to work’ can be achieved. Many examples were given to highlight this fact.

Your branch delegates supported this motion wholeheartedly. The motion was carried unanimously.

4. Conference believes tackling sexual harassment in the workplace should be a priority for the CWU and therefore instructs the WAC to make campaigning on this issue one of their priorities for the coming year. This campaigning should include promoting training for members, reps and management on the issue, and for policies in all workplaces to be adequate and robust.

The branch in moving the motion noted the publication of the TUC/Everyday Sexism project ‘Still just a bit if banter’ and that more than half of women interviewed had experienced some form of sexual harassment of some kind in the workplace. Once again many examples were quoted from BT and Royal Mail. It also important to realise that four out five women did not report the harassment.

Your branch delegates vote to support the motion. It was also carried unanimously.

5. Conference instructs the WAC to work with the industrial executives to campaign for more nursery provision by the employers at workplaces where we have a large number of members.

It is worth remembering the Mount Pleasant in London is the only workplace nursey in the country in Royal Mail, and that the innovative idea was for there to be several of these over the country. This needs to now be realised.

Your delegates voted to support this motion, and it was carried unanimously.

6. Conference instructs the WAC to lobby the PEC to produce a ‘can’t wait card’ for members who suffer with IBS.

The branch in moving the motion reiterated the issue of IBS with outdoor workers, who have sometimes limited access to toilet facilities during their working day. This motion was delivered by a postal branch. A telecoms branch spoke in support of the motion but said that they would like to see this enacted in BT as well.

Your branch delegates voted for the motion, and it was carried.

7. Workplace Women`s Committees are an excellent tool to bring women through and to promote & encourage participation. The aspiration is that we help to enable all women in CWU represented workplaces to achieve their full potential and increase levels of interest in women becoming active within the union. Workplace Women’s Committees should be expanded across our recognised employers workplaces to promote women`s issues and give a voice to an often under-represented part of the workforce / membership. The Advisory Committee is instructed to request the industrial executives to open discussion with the major employers to assist with the promotion of Women’s Workplace Committee’s. The Advisory Committee is also instructed that as part of this process the success criteria of already established Workplace Women`s Committees should be shared by the Women’s Advisory Committee via an LTB as best practice.

This motion was moved verbatim as the on the agenda pad. It was supported formerly with no other speakers. It seemed a pretty sensible proposition so your branch delegates voted for this motion. It was carried.

SECTION 2 – National Motion

8. Conference Instructs the WAC to work with the NEC & WASPI (Women against State Pension Inequality) to campaign for changes to be brought in that puts right the wrong where women who have reached pension age are dis-advantaged due to the decade they were born in.

The mover of the motion was adamant that the law introduced is an ageist thing that should not continue. When you are born should not be a contributing factor to how much, and in this case, the money you receive or when you can draw on it.

This was a no brainer for you delegates, who voted to support this motion. The motion was carried unanimously.

9. The women’s advisory committee submitted motion 9, it is goes someway in supporting the previous motion. In moving the motion it emerged that we are at the bottom of the European league table when it comes to state pensions, and also the highest retirement age.

Motion: This conference instructs the WAC to work with the NEC to lobby the Government to make fair transitional state pension arrangements for all women born on or after 6th April 1951, who have unfairly borne the burden of the increase of the State Pension Age (SPA) with lack of appropriate notification. And to offer our support to the (WASPI) Women Against State Pension Inequality campaigners.

Your delegates voted to support this motion, and it was carried unanimously.

10. Motion 10 fell as a consequential of motion 9 being carried.

11. Conference instructs the WAC to work with the NEC to:

· Lobby all political parties to raise concerns and ensure that this important legislative change is made while protecting the legal limit.

· Work with Abortion Rights groups to continue to raise public awareness to change the culture of stigma and discrimination.

· Promote active participation in Abortion Rights groups to mark the 50th anniversary of the passing of the 1967 Abortion Act.

· Recognise the legislative responsibility for abortion in Scotland has now been devolved to the Scottish Parliament and include this change in all lobbying etc.

The mover reminded us of the 50th Anniversary, in 2017, of the 1967 Abortion Act. Abortions still need the permission of two practioners, despite the BMA recommendation to reduce this to one. This to fall in line with every other consenting issue.

Your branch delegates voted to support this motion. It was carried.

12. This Conference notes that whilst we as a trade union affiliate to abortion rights we do little actively to aid their campaign to decriminalise the Abortion Act and to campaign for the woman of Northern Ireland to be able to access safe and legal abortions. This conference instructs the WAC to work with the NEC to actively campaign with abortion rights to bring about these changes.

The mover of the motion reminded conference that the 1967 Abortion Act was never taken to Northern Ireland. Abortion in Northern Ireland still falls under the Criminal Convictions Act, which has a penalty of 14 years in imprisonment. Abortion needs to be decriminalised, a woman who needs an abortion should not be treated as criminals.

Your delegates whole heartedly supported this initiative and it was carried unanimously.

13. Conference notes with concern the impact that government policies are having on women’s access to justice. Conference also believes that these cuts and punitive measures are a despicable attack on the most vulnerable in society, and a direct attack on women’s access to justice, and calls upon the WAC to work with the NEC to campaign for a fairer justice system, which is properly funded and meets the needs of women.

The mover of the motion picked up on the public sectors cuts, especially the decimation of services that provide specialist support for women – victims of violence. Sex discriminations claims at present have fell by 83% because of the introduction of tribunal fees.

Your branch delegates supported this motion, and it was carried unanimously.

14. Conference instructs the WAC to work with the NEC and all relevant bodies to campaign for a universal domesticated allowance for those carrying out unpaid domesticated and caring labour.

The mover read the motion in full, and explained that women play a vital role in our economy as both workers and consumers. Tax and public spending have a major impact on women’s incomes and wider lives. It is a well-known fact that women’s unpaid labour is worth tens of billions of pounds to the economy every year, all of which remains uncalculated in terms of national GDP figures. Feminist economists and academics have argued that calculating unpaid caring and domesticated work as paid work could reduce the UK deficit, and a universal carer’s payment funded by employer and state taxation is just one way to fund such an initiative. A few speakers rose in opposition as well as supporting the motion. Interesting comments were: ‘Is the work at home the same as at work? Where is this extra income to come from?

Your delegates agreed with the principles of the motion, but was not convinced that the financial statements could be achieved. Therefore you delegates voted against the motion. The motion was carried……………………….just!

15. The Northwest Regional Women’s Committee produced a three part Women’s Toolkit in 2013 which was distributed to all NW Branches and Women’s Officers. A review of the information within the toolkits has recently taken place with the intention of updating them and redistributing them across the Northwest Branches. The NWRWC feel that it is essential that helpful information is available to new female activists

and new Branch Officers to support the good work that is being done around the Proportionality and Representation agenda. The NWRWC feels that this information should be shared across the CWU so instructs the Women’s Advisory Committee (WAC) to create a working party consisting of WAC and NWRWC members to develop and create a new generic Women’s Toolkit that would be made available to all members via the CWU national website and replace the current Women’s Toolkits. The WAC are also requested to liaise with the Equality Department and the National Executive Committee (NEC) to seek funding for this project as part of the proportionality agenda. This toolkit to be launched at CWU Women’s Conference 2017.

This was moved by the North West Regional Women’s Regional committee. The WAC in their contribution understood the nature of the motion but felt it did not go far enough, and wanted to liaise with the branch. The branch was asked to remit the motion. The branch agreed to do this.

16. This motion seeked to monitor CWU representation over the year, to produce a report on the media representation of the CWU before the next Women’s Conference and finally to encourage affiliation to the Fawcett Society and Engender (Scotland) to support their research. The WAC were instructed accordingly.

It needs to be known that from a report that during the last General Election from around 611 articles addressing the economy from 6 national newspapers 80% was from or towards men. Women’s representation in public life is being addressed by the CWU, but more needs to be done in this respect.

Your branch delegates supported the motion. It was carried.

17. This motion was carried. Your delegates were not on the floor of conference. Heather was in the toilet and Gordon was on the mobile phone to a member.

18. This motion instructed the AC to work with the NEC and officers of the CWU to guarantee the vigorous education pack and mentoring system for women continues, and to meet the challenges of how the CWU can carry on in training its reps from August 2017.

The Government cut 50% of the TUC Education budget in August this year, and what left will be cut in August 2017. Already Trade Union studies’ departments are closing down because of the lack of funding. Ruskin College also only expects to cover their costs from what is run by the CWU up until the end of the year. Future courses run by ‘Left Click’ are ok as a CBT but there will be no accreditation.

Your Delegates voted to support this motion, and it was carried unanimously.

19. Conference calls on the Women’s Advisory Committee and the Equality Department to work with the NEC to give the Chair of the Women’s Advisory Committee the right to put a report on the CWU Women’s Conference agenda pad alongside the message from the General Secretary and the National Equality Officer. This should be achieved as soon as possible.

It is accepted that the Women’s Advisory Committee does a great job on behalf of the membership, but there is nothing laid out and no reports submitted during its two year term in office. Whilst the General Secretary can produce one the Chairperson of the WAC is not allowed to detail their work they have done.

Your Delegates supported the motion, and it was carried.

20. Conference instructs the WAC to look into other ways of holding regional and national meetings, which would reduce the need for physical attendance and often tiresome travel: SKYPE, conference calls, video conferencing and other similar methods should be tried over the course of the next 12 months, participants to be surveyed with the results and a best practice report shared with all branches in December 2017.

There were many speakers on this motion, to support and oppose. Branches to support were East Midlands and Doncaster. They said that with modernisation rapidly improving and women having to run the home as well as a job this was one of the most important props on the motion pad. Opposition came from the WAC, stating that this

motion is definitely for the future, but not the near future. Broadband is not at 100% coverage yet, which would limit access to some people. Suffolk Amal, West Yorkshire and West London also opposed the motion.

Your Branch delegates decided to support the motion as we thought this has to start somewhere, and if people wanted to physically attend a meeting they still could. The motion however was not carried by about 60:40.

21. This conference instructs the WAC to work with Regional Women’s Committees to start nominating notable women to English Heritage, as this is the only way we can change the trend.

The mover stated that there is a notable low proportion of blue plaques around London on heritage sites depicting women, and the trend will not change unless women are selected.

Your delegates abstained on this as they were not sure what the plaques represent and how people get their names on these plaques, and this was not explained fully. The motion though was carried.

22. Motion instructed the WAC to work alongside the Equality Department and the NEC to ensure crèche facilities are offered at all CWU National briefings/conferences/forums and seminars etc and also well advertise. This to be in place from General Conference 2017.

Your delegates supported this motion because we voted for motion 20. If people want to attend these function and have child care issues the crèche facilities are the answer. The motion was carried.

From the Industrial Motions your branch delegates chose motion 3 for the T&FS Conference and motion 6 to go through to the Postal Conference. From the National Issue motions 9 and 13 were selected to go to the 2017 General Conference

After the count up: motion 1 is to go to the T&FS Conference.

Motion 6 is to go to the Postal Conference

And motions 9 & 10 to the General Conference.

The conference attracted 133 delegates, of which 105 were women. There was 35 observers, of which were 10 women.


Heather Mason

Gordon Mason