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IndustriAll Europe: Equal Opportunities Committee Meets in Frankfurt

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10 February, 2014On 30 January 2014 the IndustriAll Europe Equal Opportunities Committee met in Frankfurt at IG Metall. The discussion focused on quotas, equal pay issues and work-life balance.

In addition a representative from the European Women’s Lobby gave a presentation on the price of austerity. The meeting was attended by women from Spain, Germany, Belgium, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, France, Denmark, Romania and Finland. Diana Junquera from FITAG-UGT Spain was elected chair. The committee welcomed this election because it marks the transition to a young chair.

The issue of quotas is burning more and more. Nevertheless there is no agreement on whether quotas should be introduced on union side either. But some good examples do exist such as the 30 percent quota for women on the board of the Swiss union UNIA. It was felt that more discussion of the quota issue was required by IndustriAll Europe, which is why the next meeting will have an in-depth look at the question.

In connection with work-life balance the discussion in Germany is tending now toward shortening the working week for parents with young children. IG Metall is demanding a 30-hour working week.

Lisa Hult from the European Women’s Lobby gave a presentation called EU Crisis Policies and Gender Relations. To start with, the European Women’s Lobby groups some 2000 member organizations and fights for, among other things, women’s economic independence, an area which covers the gender pay, poverty and pension gaps, quality work for all women, atypical and marginal employment, access to pensions, individualization of taxes and social security benefits, equal sharing of paid and unpaid work and the reconciliation of professional and family life. The current EU austerity policies have led to cutbacks in services and benefits. These cuts mean that women have an uphill fight to make their job fit their family when childcare is cut, when support for victims of violence is slashed and altogether the funding for women’s rights disappears. On an average in the EU women have 39 percent less pension than men, a recipe for poverty in old age. Instead of making the most of women’s work and increased tax payments to overcome the crisis, women are being punished and condemned to hardship.

For more information on the crisis and its adverse effects on gender equality see the work done by researchers Maria Karamessini and Jill Rubery on women and austerity.