Women's Conference Coventry 2010
The Village Inn, Coventry, was the venue for the 13 th CWU Women's Conference. It was in 1999 that the first motion based Conference took place. Women's Conference is a platform where Women can meet to discuss their involvement within the CWU. As Women's Officer I am fortunate to be able to attend this Conference every year, along with Julie Courtney (Counters section Secretary).
Deputy General Secretary
Tony Kearns addressed the Conference on behalf of Billy Hayes (General Secretary). Tony welcomed the involvement of Women in the CWU and stressed the importance of the need for all branches to send Women to this event. He stated that out of 162 branches in the CWU, there were only 64 in attendance. He mentioned that it was encouraging to see two female members from his branch in attendance. Tony spoke of the role that Women played during the ‘Liverpool Dockers' dispute' in September 1995. He recommended a book, worth reading, by Jane Kennedy and Michael Lavalett called ‘ Solidarity on the Waterfront .'
Conference voted to have a question and answer session, with Tony, on the controversial issue that is currently dominating the union, finance. There was a lot of debate around the idea of a single Equality Conference. The consensus was that cuts should start at the top table, not at the bottom.
There are currently four Equality Conferences: Women's, Lesbian/gay, Disability and Black Workers. It is in the region of £48,000+ to run these Conferences, having one conference could save £25,000.
Mary Davies Professor of Labour Studies addressed the conference, she spoke about: the role of Women in Public Life, the barriers that they face, the Lack of role models, social class, lack of support, experience, training, confidence and the ‘Snail's Pace' that it has taken for them to progress.
This year there were twenty four motions submitted to Women's Conference, covering: finances of the CWU, domestic violence, proportionality, sex trafficking, flexible working, release for Women's Regional Secretaries and Chair's and many more.
After much debate, Conference voted that the two motions which will be submitted to General Conference, are: Motion 1) Release for Women's Sec/Chair and Motion 21) Finance/Equality Conferences.
Women's Conference is held once a year, in February, at various venues. It is a good place to start for any Women who would like to get a better understanding of how the union works.
It is my view that branches should encourage a greater female involvement in the workplace, and it is a privilege to represent the branch and promote Women's issues on their behalf.
Karen Smith /Women's Officer
Duties of the Branch Women's Officer
Women officers should have a leading role in any recruitment or organisational campaigns where potential female workers are being targeted.
Some of the areas that a women's officer will have responsibility for will include:
Promoting issues affecting women.
Reporting to their branch/region on relevant issues.
Escalating relevant issues where necessary.
Acting as a point of contact between members and the branch.
Acting as a liaison between CWU HQ and the branch on issues concerning female members.
To provide information to female members (to which the women's officer may themselves receive from CWU national or regional level)
To attend Regional Women's Committees and the CWU women's conference and feed in where appropriate.
There are no specific agreements on facilities time for branch women's officers with any of the main employers with whom the CWU currently negotiates. This means that any facilities and support for the branch women's officer needs to be negotiated separately with the employer or built into the overall allocation of paid release.
Inevitably, branch women's officers, like all union officers, will have to use some of their own time in making the role a success.
Branch women's officer will require support from their branch, region and CWU HQ. It will be up to each branch and region to determine how best to give that support.
CWU head office recognises that branch women's officers will have a variety of skills and experiences and therefore is committed to working with women's officers, branches and regions to provide appropriate training and development wherever possible.