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Cancer and activism raised at TUC women's conference

10 March 2011

The rights of workers who have cancer to proper treatment by employers and the need to attract young women into active trade unionism were highlighted by the NUJ at the TUC Women's Conference in Eastbourne.

A five-woman NUJ delegation, including Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ deputy general secretary, and Lena Calvert, NUJ equality officer, attended the conference. The conference took place as women and unions across the world marked the centenary of International Women's Day.

Michelle Stanistreet told the conference:

"That's been an important date in the NUJ's calendar of celebration for many years. Our union has a proud tradition of activity by women journalists over the past century in advancing the rights and careers of colleagues, but our resolutions before conference this year focus on important issues for the future of all women at work.

MIchelle Stanistreet emphasised the importance of bringing young women workers into the union movement.

"Often, even when young women do join a union at work, they don't become active as representatives of their colleagues or get involved in the union's decision-making structure. Sometimes this may be because of domestic responsibilities or fears of victimisation.
"Or, women may see unions as old fashioned or male-dominated. The NUJ believes the TUC women's committee should develop a strategy including courses to attract young women into active trade unionism, encouraging unions to make their TUC delegations age-diverse, and organising a major conference aimed at young women trade unionists."

Lena Calvert raised the important issue of the rights of workers diagnosed with cancer.

"Most managers don't know that their employees with cancer are classified as disabled, so employers must make reasonable adjustments for them at work. In fact, a Macmillan Cancer Support survey found that employers don't discuss sick pay entitlement, flexible working or other arrangements with employees diagnosed with cancer.
"We want a TUC campaign to raise awareness of the workplace rights of people diagnosed with cancer."

Read the NUJ International Women's day newletter.

Tags: , tuc women's conference, activism, cancer, employment rights, women, women in the nuj, international women's day