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Women trade unionists celebrated at TUC conference

23 March 2012 - 2:48pm

The thousands of women who turned out on the day of action against changes to NHS pensions last year were applauded at the recent TUC women’s conference.

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Kim Gainsborough (above, centre), a CSP steward from Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, moved a motion celebrating the contribution of women trade unionists to the campaign effort on 30 November.

It was one of two motions submitted by the society for debate at the three-day event  held on 14–16 March at Congress House in London.

'Overwhelmed' by Nov 30

Ms Gainsborough said she was ‘overwhelmed’ by the turnout on 30 November, the strike day organised in reaction to the government’s proposals to change public sector pension schemes, including in the NHS.

She told conference the government’s programme of cuts to the public sector, services and jobs and cuts to benefits were ‘continuing to have a devastating impact on women and their families’.

Speak out

And she argued the public must continue to hear firsthand how the cuts were affecting women in their daily lives. ‘We need to make sure our unions get their voices heard by encouraging them to speak out.’

CSP director of employment and union services Lesley Mercer moved an additional, emergency, motion on trade union and human rights in Colombia, following her recent visit to the country.

Released from prison

The motion celebrated the release of Colombian political prisoner and trade union activist Liliany Obando, falsely accused of terrorism and held for nearly four years without trial. Ms Obando was released after a two-and-a-half year campaign by trade unionists in the UK and elsewhere.

Ms Mercer called on the TUC to continue support for Ms Obando, who is at risk of assassination, and the campaigning efforts of Justice for Colombia, which the CSP is affiliated to.

She also spoke at a fringe event on the Thursday evening of conference alongside TUC deputy general secretary Frances O’Grady and other participants in the JFC visit to Colombia. Ms Mercer and the other visitors had met victims of horrific human rights abuses at the hands of armed groups, some of which are linked to the Colombian army, the meeting was told.

There was also a special panel debate on violence against women, an issue championed by the CSP over a number of years.

Other coverage of the debates is included in Frontline 21 March 2012. See
Pension changes, local pay and cutbacks hit women hardest and Call to keep campaigning against health bill


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