#Time4Equality is an initiative launched by the Irish Executive Committee at the start of 2019 – and it does exactly what it says on the tin.
Regional women’s officer Taryn Trainor takes up the story.
“Although we’ve been making a big push to call #Time4Equality in the run-up to International Women’s Day, it doesn’t end there –and it’s not just about women,” she said.
“Working people suffer a range of inequalities, and they often overlap. The most striking inequality – the one everyone knows about – is the gender pay gap. All the research shows that, after a given time any afternoon, women simply stop earning in relation to men.”
There are different ways of calculating the gender pay gap, but whichever method you choose, women throughout Ireland essentially start working for free shortly before or shortly after 3pm. One of the many factors contributing to the gender pay gap is precarious working – and that affects young people and migrant workers, as well as women. So when we call #Time4Equality, we need to focus on a range of inequalities and a range of disadvantaged groups.
Ireland Secretary Jackie Pollock is enthusiastic about the campaign and points out that gender oppression and structural disadvantage are not confined to the gender pay gap.
“There are major issues with women’s caring work – from child rearing to eldercare – being chronically undervalued and unpaid, while even in the broader economy work traditionally done by women remains lower paid,” he said. “Younger female workers in the growing precarious employment sectors also report widespread sexual harassment and disrespect.
“Working together in a trade union is the best way of tackling inequalities. For instance, all the research shows that the gender pay gap in unionised workplaces is half that in non-unionised workplaces. We are, quite literally, stronger together.”
Over the past number of weeks, Unite members throughout Ireland have been taking #Time4Equality selfies – and, much more importantly, they have been using branch meetings, area activist committees and other gatherings to discuss how we can speed up the equality clock.
Whether in Bombardier in Belfast, at the Derry/Londonderry Peace Bridge, on a Dublin construction site or working an on an archaeological dig in Meath, members have been talking about what equality means to different groups of workers, and what we can do as trade unionists to advance it.
Quoting the words of the nineteenth century abolitionist leader and workers’ right advocate Frederick Douglass, Trainor reminds us that ‘power concedes nothing without a demand’. On International Women’s Day 2019, Unite members are demanding equality for all working people – and they’re not going away any time soon.