Category: Campaigns

Comms Team

Lesley Pollock - Celebrating International Women’s Day

International Women's Day logo

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8 every year, it is a day of collective global activism and celebration that belongs to all those committed to forging women's equality.

This year’s theme is Inspire Inclusion. When we inspire others to understand and value women's inclusion, we forge a better union and better workplaces.

To mark this year’s International Women’s Day, we asked three activists from across our movement to tell us what the day means to them. In the first of three blogs, Lesley Pollock shares her experiences of the union movement, and discusses what still needs to be achieved.

Lesley has been a TSSA activist for 18 years and is currently the Branch Vice Chair of the West Scotland General Branch, the union’s largest Branch.

“I was with TSSA for about 10 years when I saw TSSA were holding a Political Weekend School in London in 2015. Meeting so many motivated and like-minded people was the springboard to me becoming a union activist.

Trade Unions fight for fairness and are involved in so many areas that are important to me. Anyone who thinks that trade union membership is just an insurance policy, in case they need representation, should take a look at the incredible work trade unionists are involved in: women's rights, equalities, disability rights and education to name a few.

There are so many inspiring women, both historical figures who have effected change and those pushing for improved conditions today.

Only last week I had the pleasure of meeting Councillor Clare Steel who has twin, teenage daughters, one who has a life-limiting condition. Her struggles to get proper care for her daughter, with complex needs, have driven her to become a councillor and to fight to improve the lives of many people.

Heart-breaking and heart-warming in equal measure when she spoke, Clare humbly described herself, “I'm just a mum; I'm just a carer.”

She is so much more: a shining light, campaigning for disabled children and unpaid carers; a principled, dedicated councillor, and a vibrant, articulate, and charming woman who has shown great resilience in the face of adversity.

International Women's Day gives women from different countries, diverse cultures and divergent opinions, an opportunity to unite over common concerns and show solidarity for each other.

Invest in women: Accelerate progress is the theme of IWD for 2024. With the crippling cost of living crisis in the UK and high levels of poverty around the world, women often bear a heavy load, juggling caring responsibilities with work. Investment is needed to redress the balance and allow women to make a valuable contribution to society.

The colours of purple, green and white symbolise International Women's Day. Purple represents, justice, dignity and loyalty while green is the colour of hope, which is much needed when you look at the challenges women are currently facing.

I think the trade union movement’s greatest victory for women was the Lee Jeans Occupation in Greenock in 1981. It was a triumph for women who took control and staged a sit in in the factory, when they discovered that their jobs were being shifted to Northern Ireland.

Though the National Union of Tailor and Garment Workers took almost 2 months to recognise the dispute, fellow trade unionists came out in solidarity with the women including the shipyard workers.

After 7 months of action, a management buy out saved all the jobs.

There is always work to be done to achieve equality. It is alarming that women are still fighting for equal pay for equal work, when this concern is documented as far back as 1893, when Margaret Irwin, Scottish Organiser of the Women's Protective and Provident League, called for better conditions for women, especially those working at home.

In addition to gender inequality in the workplace, health and safety conditions are of paramount importance. Ill-fitting PPE which is designed to be worn by men has resulted in injury to women for example.

Any form of harassment or discrimination should be challenged by TSSA. Women should make their voices heard, and our women leaders in TSSA will be excellent role models to encourage women to play their part in our union.”

TSSA members attending a rally

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