Council Election – May 2nd, 2019


Frances O’Grady’s speech to TUC Women’s Conference 2017​, 8-10 March

Always a pleasure to be with you sisters.

The time for sisterly solidarity feels more urgent than ever.

In the last few weeks we’ve had a New Right Polish member of the European Parliament assert that women deserve to get paid less because we are smaller, weaker and less intelligent than men.

We discovered that Uber doesn’t just rip off its drivers. It also gives license to sexual harassment of its women engineers too.

And, to add insult to injury hands out free leather jackets to its male engineers as a thank-you; but says that women engineers won’t get jackets because they don’t employ enough women to warrant placing an order.

And that’s before we get onto the subject of the Budget yesterday.

From a government led by a woman but that puts women last.

A government that can find spare cash to cut corporation tax but can’t find the cash to reverse cuts to universal credit.

That shells out good money on grammar schools but says it can’t properly fund the rest of education or the NHS.

That claims to be the party of working people but, year after year, refuses to give public sector workers, most of them women, that most basic of rewards for hard work – a decent pay rise.

But trade union women keep on pushing back.

We’ve campaigned for a woman’s right to choose in Ireland and Poland. And we’re ready to defend it here in the UK too.

We’ve said a big ‘no’ to sexist dress codes – whether to wear high heels should be a choice women make, not their bosses.

And women have been at the heart of our continuing campaign against that nasty, undemocratic, freedom denying Trade Union Act.

So thank you everyone for your hard work.

Conference, I’m proud of our collective resilience.

Determined that we should shout louder about our success.

And confident that we’re the ones who’ll get to shape our own future.

But I have to be frank with you.

We face the toughest political and economic climate I can remember.

A right-wing Tory government; the profound uncertainty of Brexit; the alarming spread of right-wing nationalism including, not least in the form of that orange nightmare that is Donald Trump. And his mini-me Nigel Farage.

I hope that President Trump doesn’t get that state visit to Britain.

But if he does, I think we have an opportunity to show the depth of our disapproval.

To demonstrate our support for our friends in the United States.

And to spell out, loud and clear, the new deal on jobs, rights and voice that working people really need.

And sisters, I hope you will agree with me that, black and white, gay and straight, young and old, disabled or not, it must be women who are up there at the front of that protest.

Read the Full Speech here.

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