Georgina Griffith, a rank and file PCS activist in R&C Liverpool Branch and a candidate in the Group Executive Committee elections, discusses the struggles for the right to protest and gender equality, and why the union movement needs to lead from the front.
PCS and the wider trade union movement must fight to for women not only in the workplace but also against the institutional violence that we face in wider society.
It is a disgrace that in 2021 we have seen women thrown to the floor simply for taking part in a vigil for the right to not be attacked or raped in the street. The footage echoes clips of the suffragettes over a hundred years ago.
It seems too little has changed. Women’s rights are again under attack, from the very people who say they are there to protect us.
The government is further cracking down on the right to protest with the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, but even under existing legislation the police find ways to criminalise events like that peaceful vigil.
The right to protest should be defended and a vigil against patriarchal violence shouldn’t be subject to more patriarchal violence by the state.
What happens in wider society is reflected in the conditions we face at work.
In HMRC, the closure of local offices in favour of regional centres in the middle of large cities and the working pattern changes from Pay and Contract Reform mean more women working late and often having to travel home via public transport.
We need to change society so women shouldn’t be afraid to walk the streets alone at night. Imagine a society when leaving friends and actually feeling safe to make your way home is normal!
Most women are attacked by those they know rather than strangers, so we also need protection for them, including ensuring they are supported at work. Domestic violence has seen a dramatic rise since lockdown, but nothing substantial has changed and very little headway has been made.
This should be a top priority for unions. Over half of members are women, and still most leading activists are men. Until they’re seen to proactively fight for women, that won’t change. We need to create a more inclusive environment where more women feel encouraged and able to stand, so that the makeup of our committees reflects our membership.
The PCS Rank & File Network stands in solidarity with groups like Sisters Uncut and all the activists so bravely fighting on this issue. We ask that you stand with us to ensure women’s safety is a top priority for our union.
Georgina is standing for the R&C GEC alongside the following candidates:
Richard Jones, Pete Smullen
Group Executive Committee
Phil Dickens, Dave Gibbons, Georgina Griffith, Nigel Hesdon, Richard Jones, Helen Sheridan, Pete Smullen, Christine Spinks, Annette Wright