TfL and IWD

Submitted by Tubeworker on Sun, 02/03/2014 - 20:38

TfL Women's staff network group is celebrating International Women's Day (8 March). But which women and what is it celebrating?

Women workers barely get a mention, although working class women established International Women's Day. Our only acknowledgement is in a London Transport Museum film about women transport workers from World War One to today.

Otherwise, we'll be treated to "a panel of senior managers", including HR Director Tricia Riley and Mike Smith, General Manager of the Victoria Line, discussing "issues that affect women in the workplace".

How would they know our issues? When was the last time they were sexually assaulted by a male passenger? Or experienced sexist "banter"/harassment from a colleague(a culture London Underground knows about but refuses to challenge)?.

Most of us don't care about how tough it is for woman senior managers to juggle a career of making cuts and sacking staff with the burdens of being a woman. We care about how we'll manage childcare once cuts force us to work worse rosters further from home. We care that TfL/LU have never come up with a solution to the fact that most childcare does not cover our extreme working hours; that many carers are forced to sacrifice money by working part time (which is effectively discrimination). What advice would senior managers offer to address our problems? They are the very people causing them!

Perhaps we're supposed to hold them up as "role models"? The event includes a "networking lunch", presumably so we can make connections that will help us climb the ladder to a top job.

But what use is that for women workers if the majority are held back by discriminatory practices, sexual harassment and sexism at work and the virtually impossible task of managing shift work and family life?

International Women's Day should not be about a minority who have risen off the backs of other women. It should be a day of struggle by the majority of women, not a celebration of a few women bosses.

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