CSP raises vital issues of cost of living, physio staff shortages and violence against women and girls

CSP delegates to TUC Women’s conference kicked off celebrations for International Women’s Day by hearing rousing speeches from trade union leaders.  

The panel at the TUC Women's Conference 2023
The panel at the TUC Women's Conference 2023

CSP members, Leanne Antoine, Helen Lewis and Rachel Ordell attended conference alongside CSP national officer Siân Caulfield and senior negotiating officer Helen Purcell.

The 2023 conferenceopened with inspiring speeches from Conference chair, Heather Mackenzie, TUC President, Maria Exall and TUC general secretary, Paul Nowak.

Voting taking place at TUC Women's Conference 2023
Voting taking place at TUC Women's Conference 2023

They separately spoke about celebrating women workers, recognising their value to the economy while also highlighting the growing gender pay gap and sexual harassment in our society, workplaces, and our trade unions.

Paul Nowak laid out his plans to tackle sexual harassment in trade unions, including proper and clear reporting routesfollowing a recent damning report about sexual harassment in the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA). 

Rachel Reeves, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, also spoke to delegates. In her speech, she recognised the contribution of women in trade unions, as reps and their contribution to the workplace.

She went onto celebrate the upcoming work of ex-TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady, who in her new role as Labour Peer in the House of Lords, will lead an investigation into the gender pay gap and why it’s taking so long to eliminate it.  

Violence against women and girls  

Rachael Machin at TUC Women's Conference 2023
Rachael Ordell at TUC Women's Conference 2023

Rachael Ordell, clinical lead advanced physiotherapist and previousCSP Council member and LGBTQIA+ network chair spoke to delegates on Wednesday afternoon about violence against women and girls, with millions of women and girls globally facing violence and abuse.

In her speech, Rachael highlighted that, according to the charity Shelter, ‘domestic violence is the single most quoted reason for becoming homeless.’

Alongside this, Rachael called on the government to ensure it gave proper funding to organisations supporting women and preventing all forms of violence and abuse against women and girls.  

Leanne Antoine at TUC Women's Conference 2023
Leanne Antoine at TUC Women's Conference 2023

Cost of living 

The second day of conference saw Leanne Antoine, clinical lead, director and CSP Council member, speak on the impact of the cost-of-living crisis and a growing gender pay gap.

In her speech, Leanne highlighted that 68 per cent of women are struggling to pay their household bills, with this figure rising to over 80 per cent for Black, Asian and minority ethnic women.

Leanne further noted: ‘As a physiotherapist it would be wrong for me to stand here and not mention the implications that so much of this has on one’s mental and physical wellbeing all at a time when we are desperately trying to beautifully nurture our offspring.

50% of low paid women report negative effects on their levels of anxiety and 48% report negative impact on their quality of their lives.I think that these are devastating statistics

Physiotherapy staffing shortages 

Helen Lewis, senior physiotherapist and CSP steward, also spoke to conferenceabout the impact of physiotherapy shortages on women and the significant negative impact on recruitment, retention, care provision and staff morale sighting that the current staffing issues have been created by continuous pressures on funding, poor long-term work force planning, weak policies and a lack of responsibility by government.  

All of CSP's motions were passed by conference unanimously. 

National Women’s Committee 

CSP delegates at the TUC Women's Conference 2023.
CSP delegates at the TUC Women's Conference 2023

On Friday afternoon, CSP national officer, Siân Caulfield, was nominated for the first time onto the national TUC Women’s Committee. Siân said: ‘It’s a real honour to be nominated onto the committee and represent women and the CSP at a national level. I’m really looking forward to working with colleagues, policy makers and workers from other unions.’

Delegates also attended fringe events learning more about the role of trade unions in accessing maternity rights, engaging with the TUC anti-racism task force and workplace sexual harassment. 

Find out more

Interested in joining in with the trade union movement’s democratic policy making? 

Speak to national officer Siân Caulfield for an informal chat about joining at a future TUC Women’s conference. 

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