Robyn Benson, PSAC

Women: the struggle continues



Women on line-E.jpg

On March 8, International Women’s Day, our Union will be celebrating past victories—and continuing the fight for a better future for women and girls.

The fact is, our women members have slipped back under the Harper government.

  • While accessible childcare has never been more important for working families, our members are losing access to on-site childcare centres.

  • Harper’s endless cuts to the federal public service are landing disproportionately on women. Since 2011, 25,214 positions have been eliminated. Another 5000 positions are predicted to be gone by 2017. Women are 55% of the public service, and fill 84% of the positions in administration. Many have lost or will lose their good paying jobs.

  • In 2009, the Conservatives took away the right of public service unions to help women fight pay discrimination—unbelievably, the PSAC can be fined $50,000 for doing so. In other words, this government has legislated inequality!

  • Women account for 69.5% of disability insurance claims. At present, Sun Life, which manages that program, has cut back on claim approvals. Now the government wants to abolish sick leave and replace it with short-term disability run by a private insurance company, but we are saying no.

  • There is a national outcry over missing and murdered Aboriginal women, but the Harper government is refusing to hold a national inquiry, preferring instead to spend millions of tax dollars fighting against equality for First Nations children.

Not a pretty picture. But in the past, we took on even greater challenges, and we triumphed. Paid maternity leave in the federal public service was won by rank and file PSAC members in the historic 1980 CR strike. Through grassroots mobilization, unceasing lobbying, and any legal challenges, we won the fight for pay equity federally, in the Northwest Territories, and for many other members we represent.

We’re not about to quit!

This is an election year, and the Harper government is on the defensive. Our teams are still fighting hard for us at the bargaining table, but it’s time for our Union as a whole to get involved in the political process. It’s time for a change in Ottawa, and that will take a lot of energy, commitment and plain hard work on the part of every one of us.

A good place to start would be a national political leaders’ debate on women’s issues. The last one took place more than thirty years ago, so it’s well overdue. The NDP and the Green Party have agreed to take part, but the Liberals, Conservatives and Bloc Québécois have not as yet responded.

We’re up for that debate—and for the unfinished struggle to achieve full equality for women. If there was ever a time to get involved, it’s right now. Let’s not miss our opportunity to make a difference.


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This page contains a single entry by Robyn Benson, PSAC published on March 6, 2015 8:14 AM.

Healthy workplaces: all in favour? was the previous entry in this blog.

Healthy workplaces: crunch time is the next entry in this blog.

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