2000: TUC Women’s Conference

In March 2000 ASLEF sent its first delegation to the TUC Women’s Conference which was held in Scarborough.

Below Stephanie Mackay reports on their experiences.

Two women and two men in smart clothing stand in a row smiling at the camera
Delegates Stephanie Mackay and Marion Butcher with general secretary Mick Rix and District Secretary Alan Dodd

Marion Butcher (LUL) and I attended the Women’s TUC in Scarborough last week. A great time was had but we also got down to some hard work. This is the first year that ASLEF has put forward a motion and the first time that delegates have had support from Head Office. Sian Cartwright and Gary Fabian were a great deal of help and even managed to boost our confidence when we had to speak in front of 300 delegates. They were also quite good fun so we didn’t have to pretend that we were working in our rooms while really we were partaking in the nearest local!

The theme of this year’s conference was Fair Pay for Women. It seems ludicrous that in the year 2000 women are still being employed in the majority of low paid jobs. Where we have equal responsibilities to men our salaries do not reflect this. The average lifetime earnings of a woman will be around £240,000 less than a man’s. Conference asked the Women’s Committee to lobby the TUC and take action on this disparity.

Our first motion, on Family Friendly Policies, also a popular theme for this year, was one of the first items on the agenda. Marion spoke on the composite that we seconded for the T&GWU and although she told us beforehand she was nervous you wouldn’t have known that this was her first time speaking in public. I was asked by the Fire Brigades Union to speak on Women’s Health and Safety and although I was scared rigid I quite enjoyed it. I tried convincing delegates that I was going to be stuck for words but oddly enough no one believed me!

Most of the items were met with support from conference. There was however a contentious amendment put forward by TSSA in support of zero hours contracts. The amendment did fall, as most Trade Unions want to see an end to this unreliable and unfair method of employing people. Another quite lively debate followed a composite moved by MSF concerning the influence of the Women’s Committee on the TUC in general. Some feel it is necessary to keep our agenda items completely separate whilst others want to see motions carried at Women’s TUC go onto the agenda of the TUC congress. The composite was carried.

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, learned a great deal and made some good friends and contacts. I’d like to thank those who nominated me for making it possible and hope to get the chance to go again. 

Stephanie Mackay, aslef journal March 2003
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