OTTAWA – The United Steelworkers union (USW) has told a parliamentary committee that ensuring economic security for women is dependent on many factors, from better access to unionization, pay equity legislation, secure pensions, child care and putting a stop to gendered violence.
“Every day we fight for the rights of women through collective bargaining,” says USW National Director Ken Neumann. “We know that, without unions, the wage gap between men and women would be larger than it is – and it is already unacceptable.”
The USW submission offers 10 recommendations including federal pay equity legislation, true universal child care, access to EI maternity and parental leave, housing, and apprenticeship programs.
“There should be increased federal-provincial collaboration on apprenticeship programs and placements aimed at equity-seeking groups,” said the submission. “We also call on the federal government to assess infrastructure investment through a gender and equity lens.”
The USW submission points out that inequalities faced by indigenous women, black women and other women of colour, women with disabilities and LGBTQ women lead to even larger wage gaps and more precarious work.
“Our union’s Canadian membership of 225,000 is 20% women and that number is growing,” said Neumann. “Steelworker women have developed training and are involved in politics and their communities to advance the interests of all working women.
“But the federal government must show leadership by ending historic inequality and taking concrete steps, such as following Quebec’s lead and improving EI maternity and parental leave.”
The USW submission says eligibility should be based on an income of $2,000 during a longer eligibility period and a reduction of required hours to 300.
Neumann said Steelworker women are fighting for economic security and are active both within the union and outside. Alberta’s premier, Rachel Notley, is a Steelworker.
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