Unite’s Sarah Hacker a delegate from the National Women’s Committee and a councillor in Reading made history yesterday (September 22) and today when she moved the motion on Women and the Economy at the National Labour Women’s Conference.
It was history because this was the first Labour Women’s Conference that was not only talking about policy but was making policy.
Yesterday nearly one and a half thousand women came together, and while all four of the motions important and there were powerful personal speeches, it was the motion on Women and the Economy that was chosen to go to Labour’s Annual Conference.
And it was Sarah who moved the motion at Labour Conference 2018 for a second time in two days.
She started her speech by paying tribute to women who had been at the forefront of progress throughout history from the rallying cry of ‘bread and roses’ so that women could live and not just exist to the matchstick-women and girls strikers.
From the machinists at Ford in both Dagenham and Halewood, who went on strike paving the way for equal pay for all women to the magnificent South Asian women who took to the streets in revolt at poor working conditions at Grunwicks.
Sarah also reminded conference that it was the Women’s Conference, all those years back, that first made the case for the national minimum wage.
We owe so much of the progressive change to so many robust and resilient, trade union and Labour women who continue to organise for equality for all women.
“It’s a struggle that goes on, she said, but we will persevere because it is what was do.”
Sarah then laid out why this motion on the economy should be supported starting with the appalling consequences of the Conservative’s policy of austerity. An austerity that is quite clear an ideological choice and not an economic one.
In a powerful section of the speech Sarah explained that every exploitative aspect of our economy harms women disproportionately.
Women are more likely to be on zero hours contracts. More likely to be in low-paid work – (two thirds of people earning below the Living Wage are women). And in the sixth-richest country in the world up to three million children spend their school holidays at risk of going hungry.
“There are Tories, Sarah said, who say they are proud that we have food banks, but it isn’t pride that they should feel, it is shame”.
She then turned her fire on the disastrous Universal Credit calling on the roll out to be stopped now and the whole policy to be scrapped all together.
“Today,” she said, “we are calling for mandatory equal pay audits and a duty to prevent sexual harassment and all harassment including third party and the enactment of equality act 2010.”
The motion called for more council houses to be built. “With Jeremy Corby in No 10 Downing Street and John McDonnell in No 11,” Sarah said, “we can be confident that they will be built.”
Sarah ended her speech with a rallying cry that we can’t achieve the transformation of our country until we win.
And quoted our new general secretary, Jennie Formby: “When Jennie was ward organiser she was thrilled when her ward won their first seat from the Tories in many years. And her determination to win has never diminished. Our determination as women will also never diminish.”
So from moving the successful motion at the new policy making Labour Women’s Conference to now from the platform at Labour’s 2018 conference for the first time ever Sarah uttered those immortal words – “I move.”