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24 June 2010
Unite the Union has branded the ConDem budget as an "attack on the purse" as it will hurt women more then men.
With its sister union the United SteelWorkers (USW) in Canada the unions which have formed the world's first global union, Workers Uniting are warning that the plans by the UK government for public sector cuts will hit women the hardest.
While ministers have emphasised the lessons they have learnt from the Canadian cuts in the 1990's the unions argue that the Canadian experience demonstrates that those hit hardest from the cuts were the most vulnerable, with the burden falling hardest on women.
Gail Cartmail, Unite assistant general secretary who this week met with Canadian public sector workers said: "The experience of women in Canada during the debt reduction program engineered by Paul Martin as finance minister resulted in women paying the price for the deep and permanent cuts to social programmes and public services.
"In Canada, as in much of the world carers tend to be women. They are largely responsible for unpaid labour for services that were as part of the spending cuts. Women were forced to keep working more to make ends meet as fewer services were publicly funded, and where the basics grew more costly.
"Now the UK's ConDem government wants to make cuts twice as tough as those made by Canada. The plans to gut the social programs which women depend on for themselves and their families will be deeply felt and the cost to working families will be devastating.
"By hitting the purse in the brutal pursuit of ideologically driven cuts the result will be a widening of the inequality gap and reducing more women to poverty."
Ken Neumann, USW's national director for Canada, said: "Perhaps the greatest lesson the UK can learn from Canada's cuts to public sector funding is that the cuts were a bad idea. Despite the rhetoric, the reality is that many hardworking Canadians, including some of our most vulnerable and needy – are still suffering because of this bad policy, and there is no evidence that the cuts helped us economically as proponents suggested.
"In Canada, important programs such as health care, housing, unemployment insurance, children's aid, services for abused women and so many other areas were gutted. Today, much of those programs remain under-funded or not funded at all and that leads to more suffering and higher costs over time.
"There are other risks: job losses that will destroy families and communities and lead to long-term consequences for the UK and its people, particularly women."
Research from the Women's Budget Group has shown that women will be hardest hit by public spending cuts because:
- 65% of workers in the public sector are women, so the majority of the jobs cut are likely to be women's jobs,
- as a proportion of all pay a larger share of women’s income is made up of benefits and tax credits and
- women use public services more than men- they use them to meet their own health requirements which are greater than those of men, because of pregnancy, longer life expectancy, and lower earnings and assets; and women also in managing care responsibilities.