I was a delegate to conference representing Northampton. Held at the Telford International Centre, this proved to be an excellent, comfortable and accessible venue.
The conference was opened by Jayne Taylor, Chair of the Women’s Conference Advisory Committee, followed by Katrina Taylor, PPC for Telford with a compelling presentation from Margaret Greenwood, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
I list the motions and topics debated over the weekend.
Policy Debate 1 - Women in the Workforce Motion - Conference calls upon the Labour Party, in consultation with trade unions, to explore and commit to designing, more effective family employment rights, including opening them up to agency workers, women in self- employment and women on temporary contracts or short hour contracts. Conference began with a debate about how the current maternity rights for working mothers are not fit for purpose, the unrealistic and rising costs of childcare, lack of childcare facilities including the closure of the Labour SureStart Centre’s. Also about some of the difficulties migrant workers have, especially women, and cited a number of examples of highly qualified and academic women who are being forced to work as cleaners, earning minimum wages, the lack of support part time workers, self employed and ‘unpaid carers’ are all at risk of losing substantial pension rights. The motion was carried unanimously.
Policy Debate 2 - Early Years, Education and Childcare Motion - Conference calls on CLPs to join up with local and national campaigns to save early years provision and ensure that all our children are helped to achieve a positive state in life. Child benefit will apply for the first two children which means families who have more than two children will be discriminated against. The system very unfair. it is vital that all children have equal opportunities presented at every stage of the early life and this current government policy does not close the attainment gap often found in homes which have lower incomes. The motion was carried unanimously.
Policy Debate 3 - Pensions (Women against State Pension Intervention) Motion - Conference calls on the next Labour Government to revisit the issue of pensions equality and the raising of the state pension to a living pension and to support fair transitional arrangements for those affected by the 2011 act. Changes to the state pension age for women have affected over 3.8K women who were born in the 1950s. The majority of these women are likely to retire with less pension than their male counterparts. Most of these women maintain they were not told of the changes and find themselves financially unprepared for later stages in their lives. The motion was carried unanimously.
Policy Debate 4 - National Refuge Fund Motion - Conference supports the manifesto pledge for National Refuge Fund to provide stable funding for women’s refuges, Rape Crisis Centre’s, and calls on employers to provide up to 10 days paid leave for victims of domestic abuse. Two women die every week and Conference calls on all Labour women to stand up for the 58 women who are turned away from a refuge every week or the 400 who are unable to find a place in a refuge every month. Victims, and particularly children, are not being supported which results in suicides and mental health issues. When entering a refuge, it is the women and mothers who lose everything; their homes, possessions, jobs and support networks are all lost. Same-sex and trans couples should be able to access specific support. The motion was carried unanimously.
I attended all the other debates around the composite motions as well as a breakout session on community organizing. Composite motion topics were: - Social Care - Abortion Rights - Universal Credit and Employment Support - RIghts for Migrant Women On Sunday afternoon I visited the ballot area and voted in the affiliate section (Violence against Women and Children and Women in the Workplace) and the CLP section.
I enjoyed the time I spent talking and debating with women, from all walks of life and all areas around the UK, including delegates from Northern Ireland, Aberdeen, Cardiff and Cambridge. It was not surprising to discover we all shared a common focus and ideal - delivering a Labour Government at the next election. #forthemanynotthefew
Cllr Cathrine Russell - Northampton North CLP
The results of the Labour Women’s Conference were that the following motions will go forward to Annual Conference in September:
Universal CreditThe Rights of Migrant Women
An announcement was made that, due to the strength of the motions submitted, ALL of the motions (including those that didn’t make the short-list for conference) will be put forward to the relevant National Policy Committee to be considered for the future manifesto.
Watch the video below to see Samantha Egelstaff-Thomas proposes the motion on Violence Against Women and Girls