'Labour must step up'

Unite delegate Ruth Hayes urges conference to take action to tackle violence against women and girls

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Unite delegate and chair of the Labour Party National Women’s Committee Ruth Hayes moved a motion on violence against women and girls on the first day of the Labour Party Conference on Sunday (September 25).

Urging conference to read the motion from Labour’s Women Conference in full, Ruth highlighted how “over a decade of Tory government has left a terrible legacy” as services have been cut and low pay and job insecurity have skyrocketed.

“The results for women are stark — sexual assault, rape, and domestic violence are at record highs, while prosecutions plummet, with poorer women most at risk,” she said.

Ruth highlighted how Unite launched the Get Me Home Safely (GMHS) campaign earlier this year, led by a Unite activist in hospitality, Caitlin Lee, who was sexually assaulted on her way home from work, after she was asked by her manager to work until 1am.

“She was promised paid transport home because the last bus was at half past midnight,” Ruth told conference. “An hour before her shift ended, her manager told her she could finish earlier to catch the last bus home. The last bus never arrived. Sadly this experience is not isolated.”

Ruth hailed Unite’s GMHS campaign as “clear, tangible and industrial”.

“We are demanding that employers protect their workers from harassment, and provide safe transport home for people working late shifts or in isolated places,” she continued. “Labour must also make this issue a priority, and push the government to deliver action on their ratification of the ILO Violence and Harassment convention.

“Labour must rebuild our public transport system, bring our buses and trains back into public ownership and guarantee affordable transport,” Ruth went on to say.

She highlighted the urgent need to “properly fund the vital services that support women and girls facing violence, trauma and abuse” as well as the need for “a comprehensive programme of education that tackles the problem where it originates, with men”.

“The Tories have repeatedly failed on this — Labour must step up,” she concluded.

The motion was passed.

By UniteLive team

Pic by Mark Thomas

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