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GMB Birmingham & West Midlands Region

Women Members

GMB women members make up over half of the regions membership, but yet still earn less than men and face sex discrimination on a day to day basis. We need women to participate fully in the union to achieve our goal of promoting equality at work.

The GMB has a long and proud history of representing the best interests of its female membership. They acted as a trail blazer when they were the first trade union to take legal action to fight for women to get equal pay for doing work of equal value to a man's.

GMB Birmingham & West Midlands Region is at the forefront of the on-going campaigns against equal pay and domestic violence as workplace issues and places women’s concerns high on the Unions political agenda. The Region is committed to raising awareness on issues which affect women in their workplaces as well as society. As well as making employers more accountable in undertaking equal pay audits and ensuring the GMB Birmingham & West Midlands Region are also accountable to and truly represent actual and would be Women Members.

The Regions Equality Officer meets on regular intervals with lay delegates and the Birmingham Regional Secretary, Joe Morgan, to ensure that all possible action has been taken to highlight the struggles of women members.

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Why should you get more involved?

Here is a GMB representative story on how she went from being a non-active member of the GMB to being very active, you too could do the same. The GMB needs more representatives like Liz to help members and non-member fight for the rights.

Throughout my working life being a trade union member has always been important to me but I did not take an active role until I became a GMB workplace organiser in 2003 at the Dudley primary school where I am employed as a Teaching Assistant.

Through working with Special Needs children I became very aware of the importance of equal opportunities for everyone and began taking an interest in equality issues.  In 2006, I was elected C80 Branch Equality Officer and elected onto Regional Council in 2009.

Since 2011, I have been allocated 15 hours per week union facility time which I spend working mostly with school support staff throughout Dudley. As this workforce is largely female, I encounter a wide range of issues that affect women both at work and at home. Many teaching assistants are employed on short term contracts causing constant worry whether they will still have a job next term. Child benefit, child tax credit and working tax credit are all being reduced, resulting in financial hardship for many part time workers. Childcare costs are increasing and Children’s Centres are closing making it difficult for many low paid mothers to continue working.

Care homes are closing and there have been cuts to attendance allowance and social care, requiring more women to take on unpaid carer duties as well as paid employment.  Maternity pay and maternity leave are being eroded so many new mothers are not able to take their full maternity leave and refuges for domestic violence victims are closing, resulting in more women staying in abusive relationships. These are some of the issues affecting GMB members that I want to challenge and change.

Earlier this year, I applied for a place on GMB Regional Equality Forum and was successfully elected to lead on Women’s issues. Spending cuts and job losses are hitting women harder than men and consequently, women are paying the price for this Government’s economic failure. House of Commons Library research shows that the changes this Government has announced since the election, means that even though women earn less and own less than men, they are paying three times as much as men towards bringing the deficit down.

GMB has a large female membership, so together we can make our voice loud and show this Coalition Government we will not tolerate the bad treatment we are receiving. I want women to understand being in GMB is not about causing trouble but about standing up to obtain the rights and fair treatment that we are entitled to.

Liz McLachlan

To contact Liz phone 01384-815055 or email liz.mclachlan@dudley.gov.uk

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